A California federal judge preliminarily approved an $8 million class action settlement in late April that would resolve claims that Experian Information Solutions Inc. illegally disclosed consumers’ credit reports to a debt collection agency.
The class action lawsuit was initially filed by plaintiff Roane Holman in 2011. It was later amended to include plaintiffs Narciso Navarro and Miguel A. Alvarez. The plaintiffs alleged that Experian provided their consumer reports to collection agency Finex Group LLC, which was attempting to collect on debts it incurred for towed vehicles. The agency entered into a subscriber agreement with Experian that lasted from January 2008 until November 2010.
The class action lawsuit alleged that Experian violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it failed to confirm that Finex was using the credit reports for a permissible purpose, despite the fact that Experian had reason to believe Finex was not doing so. If a jury were to find that Experian willfully violated the FCRA, it could award each Class Member statutory damages of $100 to $1,000.
According to court documents, Finex received more than 40,000 consumer credit reports from Experian that contained a “recovery score,” which ranks accounts based on the likelihood that the debtors will pay the debt they owe.
Under the terms of the Experian class action settlement, Class Members who submit valid claims will receive $375. Class Members include all consumers whose credit reports were provided to Finex stemming from Finex’s efforts to collect on a towing deficiency claim since Jan. 12, 2009. Individuals who subsequently filed for bankruptcy are excluded.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken approved the Experian class action settlement on Tuesday after finding that its terms were fair, reasonable and adequate. A final fairness hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 11, 2014.
Class Members have until Sept. 2, 2014 to submit a claim for the Experian class action settlement. Under the terms of the agreement, Class Members must be able to show that they owned a vehicle that was towed, that they did not initiate the towing and that the debt has not been reduced.
The plaintiffs are represented by Andrew J. Ogilvie and Mark F. Anderson of Anderson Ogilvie & Brewer LLP and Balam Osberto Letona of the Law Offices of Balam O. Letona.
The Experian Credit Report Disclosure Class Action Lawsuit is Holman v. Experian Information Solutions Inc., et al., Case No. 4:11-cv-00180, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.