The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida has awarded summary judgment in favor of a furnisher on a consumer’s claims brought under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The dispute arose out of credit reporting on the account. The plaintiff asserted that the furnisher violated credit reporting standards by inaccurately identifying the “original creditor”; the Court rejected the theory that an inaccurate credit reporting violated the FDCPA and dismissed the claim.
Plaintiff Kerry Koehler received cable and/or internet service from Bright House Networks, and then fell behind on her payments. Bright House was subsequently acquired by Charter Communications, which entered into an agreement with Waypoint Resource Group to collect on unpaid accounts, including the debt at issue. Waypoint sent Koehler a collection letter and electronically reported the unpaid debt to a credit bureau through a Metro 2 Format. Waypoint identified the creditor in the “Original Creditor” data field as “Charter Communications” rather than Bright House.
Koehler sued Waypoint for a single count under the FDCPA, claiming that the reporting of the debt under the name of Charter Communications instead of Bright House Networks constituted a false and misleading representation and unfair practice. The facts were undisputed, and the parties filed summary judgment motions.
The Court specifically found persuasive an existing line of cases in the Middle District finding that “allegations that a creditor did not follow industry standards or otherwise erroneously reported information to a CRA [credit reporting agency] are insufficient to state a claim under the FDCPA.” In other words, inaccurate credit reporting, without more, is not actionable under the FDCPA. The reasoning in these cases can be an important tool for furnishers seeking to prevent attempts by plaintiffs’ counsel to bootstrap FDCPA claims onto credit-reporting disputes when there is no viable claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
A copy of the Order can be accessed here.