SW Legal studies in Business

Only Individuals Can Place Fraud Alerts on Their Credit Files
Description

Court issued an injunction against an identity theft protection company that would request a credit reporting agency to place fraud alerts on subscribers’ files when it so requested. The court held that under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, only individuals may request such alerts.

Topic

Consumer Protection

Key Words

Fair Credit Reporting Act; Fraud Alerts

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Experian is one of three major credit reporting organizations. Lifelock is a company that offers customers “identity theft protection services.” As one of those services, Lifelock submits requests for placement of “fraud alerts” on the credit files maintained by Experian. When a consumer reporting agency such as Experian receives a request for a fraud alert, the agency is required to place certain information in the consumers’ file, refer the request to the other reporting agencies, and send the consumer certain disclosures. Experian sued Lifelock, contending that it concealed and suppressed facts, engaged in misrepresentation and unjust enrichment, and violated California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL). Experian contended that Lifelock requested fraud alerts when not needed, thereby forcing Experian to incur costs of changing information and mailing notices to consumers. Experian was expected to place fraud alerts even if no information was provided by Lifelock as to why. Experian moved for partial summary judgment.

Decision

Motion granted. Lifelock’s practice of requesting fraud alerts on its subscribers’ files at Experian violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, only individuals can make such requests for fraud alerts. Experian was not required to respond to the requests made by Lifelock. Since Lifelock violated the FCRA, that created grounds for violation of the UCL, as Lifelock imposed costs on Experian by its practice. That is an unfair business practice that must be ceased.

Citation

Experian Information Solutions v. Lifelock, Inc., ---F.Supp.2d--- (2009 WL 1449037, C.D. Cal., 2009)

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