In Suluki v. Credit One Bank, N.A. (Credit One), the Southern District of New York recently granted summary judgement to a creditor in a suit alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for failure to conduct a reasonable investigation into plaintiff’s dispute claiming identity theft.
The plaintiff claimed that while she was away at college, her mother purportedly opened various accounts in the plaintiff’s name and maxed out some of the plaintiff’s existing accounts. The plaintiff allegedly disputed the debts with either the actual account holders or the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). The plaintiff’s mother called Credit One disputing the plaintiff’s claim of identity theft and advising the bank that she and the plaintiff had opened the account together, but the mother had agreed with her daughter to be responsible for the payments on the Credit One account in an effort to help build the plaintiff’s credit history. The plaintiff thereafter filed suit alleging Credit One failed to reasonably investigate her dispute. Both parties moved for summary judgment and the court granted Credit One’s motion.
The court found that Credit One’s investigation into the plaintiff’s identity theft allegations was, as a matter of law, reasonable. “The evidence shows at most that [the plaintiff’s] mother opened the account in [the plaintiff’s] name. There is no alternative investigation that would have allowed Credit One to determine that [the plaintiff] did not give her mother permission to open the account, short of relying on a police or FTC report to that effect which [the plaintiff] never provided.” Because the plaintiff did not allege any additional steps Credit One could have taken, the court granted summary judgment in Credit One’s favor.
The court also found that there is no private right of action to enforce violations of § 1681s-2(a). That section requires a furnisher to “report the results of the investigation to the [CRA].” The plaintiff argued that Credit One was obligated to report to the CRAs that she still disputed the account despite the bank’s investigation. However, the FCRA provides that violations of that section “shall be enforced exclusively … by the Federal agencies and officials and the State officials identified in § 1681s of this title.” The court found that binding circuit precedent dictated that the plaintiff could not prevail on her claim.