Allegations Of No Account Does Not Defeat Debt Collector's Permissible Purpose Under FCRA
Judge Donald Middlebrooks recently dismissed a plaintiff's "permissible purpose" claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") where the alleged facts showed that the defendant/creditor was attempting to collect a debt and had a good faith belief that the account belonged to the plaintiff. In Little v. Asset Acceptance, Case No. 9:12-cv-81116 (S.D. Fla.), Carole Little filed suit against Asset Acceptance, LLC, claiming that Asset had no permission to access her credit report, that she had never applied to Asset for credit, and that she does not maintain a credit account with Asset. Little attached to her complaint several letters between Little and Asset which indicated that Asset had purchased a credit card account it believed was Little's account and was attempting to collect on that account. This impermissible access, Little contended, violated 15 U.S.C. 1681b. The Court disagreed: "Contrary to Plaintiff's conclusory allegations in the Complaint that Defendant had no permissible purpose to access her credit history, the letters attached to the Complaint clearly indicate that Defendant had reason to believe it had a permissible purpose--to collect a debt--to access Plaintiff's credit history. Also, the letters demonstrate that Defendant is in the business of debt collection, and debt collection agencies are permitted to obtain a consumer's credit report if doing so for the purposes of collecting a debt. Indeed, there is no FCRA violation even where a defendant has made a good faith mistake in pulling a consumer report." State differently, just because Little contended that she did not have an account with Asset did not automatically state a claim under FCRA for impermissible access of her credit report. Because Little had alleged only this, the Court dismissed her FCRA claim. For more information on consumer finance litigation topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
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