Consumer Financial Services Law Monitor

Consumer Financial Services Law Monitor

monitoring the financial services industry to help companies navigate through regulatory compliance, enforcement, and litigation issues

Tim J. St. George

Tim J. St. George

Blog Role:
Contributor – Credit Reporting & Data Brokers

CFS Value:
Tim specializes in the areas of business disputes and complex litigation in the financial services industry.

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Spokeo Strikes Again: Fourth Circuit Reverses and Dismisses $12 Million FCRA Class Action on Spokeo Grounds

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening, Credit Reporting & Data Brokers, Cyber Security, Information Governance & Privacy, Debt Buyers & Collectors, Featured Posts
In one of the most significant post-Spokeo decisions to date, the Fourth Circuit unanimously reversed and dismissed a nearly $12 million Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) class action judgment, finding plaintiff, Michael T. Dreher, lacked Article III standing to bring his claims. The decision provides much needed clarity from the Fourth Circuit on the viability… Continue Reading

FTC Issues Guidance for Employment Background Screening

Posted in Background Screening
On April 28, the Federal Trade Commission published a blog entitled “Background Checks on Prospective Employees: Keep Required Disclosures Simple.”  In this online publication, the FTC issued guidance to employers on how to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act if they intend to use a consumer report (commonly referred to as a background check)… Continue Reading

California Approves New Regulations Regarding Consideration of Criminal History in Employment Decisions

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
On March 27, the Office of Administrative Law for the State of California announced new regulations that even further limit employers’ ability to consider a job applicant’s criminal history when making hiring decisions. Except if otherwise permitted by law, employers are prohibited from taking into consideration during the hiring process a number of enumerated offenses, including arrests… Continue Reading

North Carolina House Votes Overwhelmingly to “Ban the Box”

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
The North Carolina House of Representatives recently voted 98-14 to “ban the box” for state agency hiring.  The bill would not apply to private employers or to state positions that “involve direct interaction with minors or the elderly.”   House Bill 409 would prevent state agencies from inquiring into an employment applicant’s criminal history at the… Continue Reading

Vague Allegations Of Actual Damages Insufficient To Withstand Motion To Dismiss On FCRA Negligence Claim

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Credit Reporting & Data Brokers
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is not a strict liability statute.  To prevail, a plaintiff must prove that the statute was violated willfully or negligently.  While plaintiffs typically pursue willfulness claims because of the possibility of statutory and punitive damages, they often include vague allegations of emotional distress and actual damages in order to… Continue Reading

Court Rejects FCRA Background Check Settlement As Providing Insufficient Recovery For Class Members In Light Of Ninth Circuit Ruling

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
This past week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California declined to preliminarily approve a class action settlement of a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) claim because the payment to class members was unreasonably low.  In the Court’s view, the class members deserved more in light of the strengths of the plaintiff’s… Continue Reading

Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives Considering Bill That Would Reform Class Action Litigation under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, State Attorneys General, CFPB, & FTC
On February 9, 2017, Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R.-Va.), introduced H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 (“the Act”). The Act aims to “amend the procedures used in federal court class actions and multidistrict litigation proceedings to assure fairer, more efficient outcomes for claimants and defendants.” Rep. Goodlatte issued a… Continue Reading

FTC Releases Annual Summary of Consumer Complaints

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Credit Reporting & Data Brokers, State Attorneys General, CFPB, & FTC
The Federal Trade Commission has released its annual summary of consumer complaints for 2016, contained in the FTC’s latest Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book.  The FTC compiles the report annually based on complaints received by the Consumer Sentinel Network.  Complaints include those made directly by consumers to the FTC, as well as complaints received by… Continue Reading

Improper Form of Background Check Disclosure Not Sufficient Injury for Standing

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
Ever since the Supreme Court decided Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins last year, courts have been struggling to define the contours of standing in “no injury” class actions.  In Fields v. Beverly Health and Rehabilitation Services, Inc. et al., the District of Minnesota recently granted a motion to dismiss a Fair Credit Reporting Act claim in… Continue Reading

CFPB Indicates Online Complaint Portal Upgrades are Coming

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Credit Reporting & Data Brokers
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau maintains an online portal for consumers to submit complaints across a wide variety of regulated industries, including credit reporting, background screening, and debt collection.  The CFPB has announced that it will upgrade its online portal system in early 2017.  The CFPB has released a preview document, which states that the… Continue Reading

District Court Finds That Sending Copy of Background Check Satisfies FCRA Pre-Adverse Action Obligations

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, when an employer is considering rejecting an applicant based on a background check (often referred to as a consumer report), it must follow certain “pre-adverse” action procedures.  Specifically, an employer must provide the applicant with a copy of his or her background check and a summary of rights under… Continue Reading

Defendant Requests Rehearing En Banc of Ninth Circuit’s Finding of Willful FCRA Violation

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
As we previously reported, on January 20, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision of first impression in Syed v. M-I, LLC, a putative class action, when it held that a prospective employer willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by including a liability waiver in its background check disclosure form.  The Ninth… Continue Reading

Ban the Box Bill Passes Virginia State Senate, Awaits Review by House

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
On January 27, Sen. Rosalyn Dance’s “ban the box” bill, SB 1171, passed the Virginia Senate by a 22-17 vote.  The bill proposes to “ban the box” by preventing prospective employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history at the initial employment application stage.  The bill was introduced as follows:  “Public employment; inquiries by… Continue Reading

Third Circuit Finds Consumer Standing in FCRA Data Breach Litigation

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Credit Reporting & Data Brokers
On January 20, the Third Circuit in In re Horizon Healthcare Services Data Breach Litigation reversed a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act involving a data breach at Horizon Healthcare.  The Third Circuit held that the plaintiffs had standing to pursue their claims under the FCRA without any accompanying… Continue Reading

District Court Finds That “Complete and Up to Date” Requirement of FCRA § 1681K Does Not Include an Accuracy Component

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening, Credit Reporting & Data Brokers, Featured Posts
A consumer reporting agency complies with § 1681k(a)(2) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) if it “maintain[s] strict procedures designed to insure that whenever public record information which is likely to have an adverse effect on a consumer’s ability to obtain employment is reported it is complete and up to date.” In Kelly v.… Continue Reading

L.A. Becomes Latest Jurisdiction to “Ban the Box” for Private Employers

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
Los Angeles recently became the latest major city to pass a city ordinance that “bans the box” regarding inquiries into job applicants’ criminal histories from initial employment applications.  The ordinance is significant in that it specifically regulates private sector employers with 10 or more employees.  Under the ordinance, private employers will be prohibited from asking… Continue Reading

Court Finds That Spokeo Does Not Bar Enforcement of Background Check Class Action Settlement

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
In Schumacher v. SC Data Center, the plaintiff brought three class action claims against SC Data Center, Inc. under the Fair Credit Reporting Act related to its pre-employment background check process.  Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that SC Data Center’s background check process violated the disclosure and adverse action provisions of the FCRA.  The substance of… Continue Reading

CFPB Signals Intent to Move Forward With System Allowing Consumers to Rate Companies’ Responses to Complaints

Posted in Background Screening, Credit Reporting & Data Brokers, Debt Buyers & Collectors
According to a Federal Register notice published on November 29, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is soliciting further comments on its proposal to provide consumers with the option to fill out a short survey on their satisfaction with companies’ resolution of consumer complaints.  In the notice, the CFPB described the proposal: The purpose of this… Continue Reading

District Court Wrestles with Interpretation of Webpage in Background Check Disclosure Lawsuit

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that employers provide prospective applicants with a disclosure before obtaining a pre-employment background check from a consumer reporting agency.  This disclosure must be in a single document that consists “solely of the disclosure” that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes.  In Burnthorne-Martinez v. Sephora USA, Inc.,… Continue Reading

FTC Issues Bulletin for Consumers Applying for Apartments and for Handling Background Check Process

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
On November 28, the Federal Trade Commission issued a bulletin for consumers relating to the process for applying for an apartment and the related background check process that can be undertaken by the potential landlord. The FTC stated: “Landlords can check your credit, criminal history, and even your rental history.  They may ask your permission… Continue Reading

FCRA Lawsuits Increase in 2016

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening, Credit Reporting & Data Brokers, Debt Buyers & Collectors
While the number of lawsuits filed under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act remained relatively steady or fell, claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act rose sharply between October 2015 and October 2016.  The total number of FCRA lawsuits increased from 283 to 355 – a 25.4 percent increase. … Continue Reading

District Court Finds Receipt of Allegedly Improper Background Check Disclosure is Sufficient to Confer Standing Under Spokeo

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, courts and litigants alike have been trying to determine the contours of constitutional standing when it comes to procedural violations of consumer protection statutes.  This past week, the District Court for the Central District of California weighed in, finding in favor of… Continue Reading

Court Certified FCRA Class Over Spokeo Objections

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening, Featured Posts
A federal judge in the Northern District of California certified a class of job applicants in a lawsuit claiming a background check firm violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.  The Court certified the class over the arguments of the defendant that the members of the putative class lacked Article III standing under the standard… Continue Reading

State Legislatures Begin to Consider Bans on Asking About Applicants’ Prior Salary History

Posted in ALL CFS Blog Entries, Background Screening
Bills have recently been introduced in a number of states that would prohibit prospective employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history.  These bills are aimed at preventing wage discrimination among workers that perform similar or identical job functions.    These bills follow on the heels of approved legislation in Massachusetts.  Massachusetts Senate Bill 2119, which… Continue Reading