New Jersey Complaint Against Experian, Trans Union and Kroll for Mixing Credit Information and Against ASSET Acceptance, LLC, for Collecting Debts Not Belonging to Consumer

October 19th, 2012 by krista


IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

IN THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

 

 JOHN DOE 

 

          Plaintiff,

 

v.

 

ASSET ACCEPTANCE, LLC , TRANS UNION, LLC, EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS, INC., and KROLL FACTUAL DATA, INC.

 

          Defendants.                                 

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Civil Action No.

 

 

Complaint

 

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

NON-ARBITRATION

 Preliminary Statement

  1. This is an action for damages brought by individual consumer, against Defendants for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (hereinafter the “FCRA”),    15 U.S.C. §§ 1681, et seq. the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (hereinafter the “FDCPA”) and other state law claims.

The Parties

  1. Plaintiff is an adult individual residing in  Haledon, New Jersey.
  2. Defendant Asset Acceptance, LLC (“Asset Acceptance”) is a business entity regularly doing business in the District of New Jersey with a principal office located at 15 East Centre Street, Deptford, NJ 08096.  The principal purpose of Defendant is the collection of debts already in default using the mails and telephone, and Defendant regularly attempts to collect said debts.
  3. Defendant, Trans Union, LLC (hereafter “Trans Union”), s a consumer reporting agency which regularly conducts business in the District of New Jersey and which has a principal place of business located at 1510 Chester Pike, Crum Lynne, PA 19022.
  4. Defendant, Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (hereafter “Experian”) s a consumer reporting agency which regularly conducts business in the District of New Jersey and which has a principal place of business located at 5 Century Drive, Parsippany, New Jersey 07054
  5. Defendant, Kroll Factual Data, Inc. (hereafter “Kroll”) is a consumer reporting agency and reseller of credit information which regularly conducts business in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and which has a principal place of business located at 5200 Hahns Peak Drive, Loveland CO 80538.

JURISDICTION & Venue

  1. Jurisdiction of this Court arises under 15 U.S.C. § 1681p,  15 U.S.C. § 1692k(d) and 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
  2. Venue lies properly in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

Factual Allegations

  1. At all pertinent times hereto, Asset Acceptance was engaging in collection activities to collect upon debts that belong to Plaintiff’s father (hereafter the “debt”).
  2. The alleged debts at issue arose out of a transaction which was primarily for personal, family or household purposes.
  3. At all times material hereto, Plaintiff does not and has never owed the debts to Asset Acceptance.
  4. Defendants Experian, TransUnion and Kroll have been reporting derogatory and inaccurate statements and information relating to Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s credit history to third parties (hereafter the “inaccurate information”).
  5. The inaccurate information includes civil judgments taken by Defendant Asset Acceptance and LVNV, all of which are in regards to debt that belong to Plaintiff’s father.
  6. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, Asset Acceptance filed lawsuits in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Special Civil Part, Docket Nos. DC 028215 and DC 009879 in or around  November 2010 and July 2011 against Plaintiff’s father using false address information that belonged to Plaintiff and as such misrepresents the Plaintiff in those matters to be Plaintiff or to otherwise create the false impression that Plaintiff was the actual debtor being sued in these lawsuits.
  7. Plaintiff had no association, affiliation, or monetary obligations in regards to the accounts at issue in the above lawsuits and his personal information including but not limited to his address should not have used in prosecuting these lawsuits in any respect.
  8. Asset Acceptance lacked probable cause to file the lawsuit using Plaintiff’s personal information because it knew or should have known that Plaintiff was not responsible for the debts.
  9. Prior to the lawsuits having been filed, Asset Acceptance had contacted Plaintiff repeatedly in attempt to collect the debts at issue in the lawsuits wherein Plaintiff repeatedly advised it that the debts belonged to his father and to cease all further contact or collection activities against him.
  10. Despite these admonitions, Asset Acceptance proceeded with the above actions to obtain default judgments falsely using Plaintiff’s personal information.
  11. Asset Acceptance’s filing of the lawsuit and entry of default judgments served no purpose other than to harass Plaintiff particularly after Plaintiff advised Asset Acceptance of the error.
  12. Asset Acceptance acted in a false, deceptive, misleading and unfair manner by communicating with any person other than the consumer and stating that person owes the debt.
  13. Asset Acceptance acted in a false, deceptive, misleading and unfair manner by communicating with any person other than the consumer on more than one occasion.
  14. Asset Acceptance acted in a false, deceptive, misleading and unfair manner by communicating with any person other than the consumer in connection with the collection of a debt.
  15. Asset Acceptance acted in a false, deceptive, misleading and unfair manner by engaging in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.
  16. Asset Acceptance acted in a false, deceptive, misleading and unfair manner by falsely representing the character, amount, or legal status of any debt.
  17. Asset Acceptance acted in a false, deceptive, misleading and unfair manner by using any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain any information concerning a consumer.
  18. Asset Acceptance acted in a false, deceptive, misleading and unfair manner by using unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.
  19. Asset Acceptance knew or should have known that their actions violated the FDCPA.  Additionally, Asset Acceptance could have taken the steps necessary to bring their agent’s actions within compliance of these statutes, but neglected to do so and failed to adequately review those actions to insure compliance with said laws.
  20. Furthermore, the inaccurate information negatively reflects upon the Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s credit repayment history, Plaintiff’s financial responsibility as a debtor and Plaintiff’s credit worthiness.  The inaccurate information consists of accounts and/or tradelines that do not belong to the Plaintiff, and that actually belong to another consumer.  Due to Defendants’ Experian  and TransUnion faulty procedures, Defendants mixed the credit file of Plaintiff and that of another consumer with respect to the inaccurate information and other personal identifying information.
  21. Due to faulty procedures, Kroll prepared a credit report with credit information from Experian and TransUnion that was mixed with that of another consumer.
  22. Defendants have been reporting the inaccurate information through the issuance of false and inaccurate credit information and consumer credit reports that they have disseminated to various persons and credit grantors, both known and unknown.
  23. Plaintiff has disputed the inaccurate information with Defendants by both oral and written communications to their representatives and by following Experian and Trans Union established procedures for disputing consumer credit information.
  24. Plaintiff has disputed the inaccurate information with Experian and Trans Union from July 2012 through the present.
  25. Notwithstanding Plaintiff’s efforts, Experian and Trans Union have sent Plaintiff correspondence indicating their intent to continue publishing the inaccurate information and Experian and Trans Union continue to publish and disseminate such inaccurate information to other third parties, persons, entities and credit grantors.  Experian and Trans Union have repeatedly published and disseminated consumer reports to such third parties from at least June 2012 through the present.
  26. Despite Plaintiff’s efforts, Experian and Trans Union have never:  (1) contacted Plaintiff to follow up on, verify and/or elicit more specific information about Plaintiff’s disputes; (2) contacted any third parties that would have relevant information concerning Plaintiff’s disputes; (3) forwarded any relevant information concerning Plaintiff’s disputes to the entities originally furnishing the inaccurate information; or (4) requested or obtained any credit applications, or other relevant documents from the entities furnishing the inaccurate information.
  27. Plaintiff’s credit reports and file have been obtained from Defendants and have been reviewed many times by prospective and existing credit grantors and extenders of credit, and the inaccurate information has been a substantial factor in precluding Plaintiff from receiving many different credit offers and opportunities, known and unknown, and from receiving the most favorable terms in financing and interest rates for credit offers that were ultimately made.
  28. As a result of Defendants’ conduct, Plaintiff has suffered actual damages in the form of lost credit opportunities, harm to credit reputation and credit score, and              emotional distress.
  29. As a result of Defendants’ conduct, Plaintiff has sustained actual damages, including, but not limited to injury to Plaintiff’s reputation, invasion of privacy, damage to Plaintiff’s credit, out-of-pocket expenses, emotional and mental pain and anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, damage to reputation and pecuniary loss and will continue to suffer same for an indefinite time in the future, all to his great detriment and loss.
  30. At all times pertinent hereto, Defendants were acting by and through their agents, servants and/or employees who were acting within the course and scope of their agency or employment, and under the direct supervision and control of the Defendants herein.
  31. At all times pertinent hereto, the conduct of the Defendants, as well as that of their agents, servants and/or employees, was malicious, intentional, willful, reckless, and in grossly negligent disregard for federal and state laws and the rights of the Plaintiff herein.

COUNT I – KROLL

VIOLATIONS OF THE FCRA

  1. Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs as though the same were set forth at length herein.
  2. At all times pertinent hereto, Kroll was a  “person” and “consumer reporting agency” as those terms are defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(b) and (f).
  3. At all times pertinent hereto, Plaintiff was a “consumer” as that term is defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(c).
  4. At all times pertinent hereto, the above-mentioned credit reports were “consumer reports” as that term is defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(d).
  5. Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §1681n and 15 U.S.C. §1681o, Kroll is liable to the Plaintiff for willfully and negligently failing to employ and follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of Plaintiff’s credit report, information and file, in violation of 15 U.S.C. §1681e(b).
  6. The conduct of Kroll was a direct and proximate cause, as well as a substantial factor, in bringing about the serious injuries, actual damages and harm to Plaintiff that are outlined more fully above and, as a result, Kroll is liable to Plaintiff for the full amount of statutory, actual and punitive damages, along with the attorneys’ fees and the costs of litigation.

COUNT II – EXPERIAN & TRANSUNION

VIOLATIONS OF THE FCRA

  1. Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs as though the same were set forth at length herein.
  2. At all times pertinent hereto, Experian and TransUnion were “persons” and “consumer reporting agencies” as those terms are defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(b) and (f).
  3. At all times pertinent hereto, Plaintiff was a “consumer” as that term is defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(c).
  4. At all times pertinent hereto, the above-mentioned credit reports were “consumer reports” as that term is defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(d).
  5. Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §1681n and 15 U.S.C. §1681o, Defendants are liable to the Plaintiff for willfully and negligently failing to comply with the requirements imposed on a consumer reporting agency of information pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681e and 1681i.
  6. The conduct of Defendants was a direct and proximate cause, as well as a substantial factor, in bringing about the serious injuries, actual damages and harm to Plaintiff that are outlined more fully above and, as a result, Defendants are liable to Plaintiff for the full amount of statutory, actual and punitive damages, along with the attorneys’ fees and the costs of litigation, as well as such further relief, as may be permitted by law.

 

COUNT III – ASSET ACCEPTANCE

ABUSE OF PROCESS

  1. Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs as though the same were set forth at length herein.
  2. Defendant Asset Acceptance instituted a civil proceeding using personal information belonging to Plaintiff as stated more fully above.
  3. Asset Acceptance proceeded in a knowing and wrongful manner to obtain a default judgment in the lawsuit in a matter which falsely reflects that Plaintiff was the responsible party for the debt at issue in the relevant lawsuit thus causing substantial harm to Plaintiff’s reputation.
  4. Asset Acceptance used the default proceeding in this manner for a wrongful purpose for which the proceedings were not designed to accomplish including but not limited to harassing Plaintiff and involuntarily forcing Plaintiff into paying for a debt which he was not responsible to pay.
  5. Asset Acceptance as such acted in a knowing, willful, reckless, malicious and/or grossly negligent manner for purposes other than adjudicating the claims for which the proceeding were  brought as described above.
  6. The conduct of Asset Acceptance was a direct and proximate cause, as well as a substantial factor, in bringing about the serious injuries, damages and harm to Plaintiff that are outlined more fully above.
  7. Asset Acceptance is thus liable to Plaintiff  for all actual and punitive damages as well as such further relief, as may be permitted by law.

Count IV – Violations of the FDCPA

  1. Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs as though the same were set forth at length herein.
  2. Asset Acceptance is a “debt collector” as defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6) of the FDCPA.
  3. Plaintiff is a “consumer” as defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(3) of the FDCPA.
  4. The above contacts between Asset Acceptance and Plaintiff were “communications” relating to a “debt” as defined by 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(2) and 1692a(5) of the FDCPA.
  5. Asset Acceptance violated the FDCPA.  Defendant’s violations include, but are not limited to, violations of 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692b(2), 1692b(3), 1692c(b), 1692d, 1692e(2)(A), 1692e(5), 1692e(10), and 1692f, as evidenced by the following conduct:

 

  1. Communicating with any person other than the consumer and stating that that person owes the debt;
  2. Communicating with any person other than the consumer on more than one occasion;
  3. Communicating with any person other than the consumer in connection with collection of the debt;
  4. Engaging in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt;
  5. Falsely representing the character, amount, or legal status of any debt;
  6. Threatening to take action that cannot legally be taken;
  7. Using any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer; and
  8. Using unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.
  9. Defendant’s acts as described above were done with malicious, intentional, willful, reckless, wanton and negligent disregard for Plaintiff’s rights under the law and with the purpose of coercing Plaintiff to pay the alleged debt.
  10. As a result of the above violations of the FDCPA, Defendant is liable to Plaintiff in the sum of Plaintiff’s statutory damages, actual damages and attorney’s fees and costs.

COUNT V  – ASSET ACCEPTANCE

DEFAMATION

  1. Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs as though the same were set forth at length herein.
  2. Asset Acceptance have published statements through writings using Plaintiff’s personal information to falsely reflect that Plaintiff is responsible for various judgments taken out by Asset Acceptance.
  3. Defendants have published these statements each time a credit report on the Plaintiff has been requested from any creditor, prospective credit grantors furnisher or other source.
  4. The statements made by Asset Acceptance are false in that they inaccurately reflect Plaintiff’s credit information and debt repayment history, and paint Plaintiff as financially irresponsible and delinquent.
  5. Asset Acceptance has published these statements to at least every single creditor, furnisher or prospective creditor or other entity that has requested Plaintiff’s credit report.
  6. Asset Acceptance knew that the statements were false when made, and had no factual basis for making the statements, as Plaintiff has notified them repeatedly that the above inaccurate information was inaccurate for the reasons stated above.
  7. Nonetheless, Asset Acceptance continues to publish the false and negative statements concerning Plaintiff’s credit history up through the present time.
  8. The written statements and publications constitute libel per se.
  9. The oral statements and publications constitute slander per se.
  10. In addition, and despite the repeated notices from Plaintiff, Defendant have acted with malice by failing to communicate the information provided to them by Plaintiff to all creditors, prospective creditors, furnishers of information and all other entities to whom it provides credit information concerning the Plaintiff.
  11. Asset Acceptance’s conduct was a direct and proximate cause, as well as a substantial factor, in bringing about the serious injuries, damages and harm to Plaintiff that are outlined more fully above and, as a result, Asset Acceptance is liable to compensate Plaintiff for the full amount of actual damages, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as such other relief, permitted under the law.

COUNT VI  –ASSET ACCEPTANCE

Negligence

  1. Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs as if the same were set forth at length herein.
  2. Asset Acceptance negligence consists of violating the FDCPA as set forth which included filing a lawsuit and obtaining a judgment using Plaintiff’s personal information so as to falsely reflect that Plaintiff is the responsible party for a debt which in fact belongs to his father.
  3. As a result of Asset Acceptance’s above mentioned conduct, Plaintiff sustained and continues to sustain the losses and damages as set forth above.
  4. The conduct of Asset Acceptance was a direct and proximate cause, as well as a substantial factor, in bringing about the serious injuries, damages and harm to Plaintiff that are outlined more fully above and, as a result Asset Acceptance is liable to compensate Plaintiff for the full amount of actual and compensatory damages, as well as such other relief, permitted under the law.

JURY TRIAL DEMAND

  1. Plaintiff demands trial by jury on all issues so triable.

 

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff seeks judgment in Plaintiff’s favor and damages against the Defendants, based on the following requested relief:

  1. Actual damages;
  2. Statutory damages;
  3. Punitive damages;
  4. Costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees; and
  5. Such other and further relief as may be necessary, just and proper.

DESIGNATION OF TRIAL COUNSEL

            Plaintiff hereby designates Mark Mailman and Gregory Gorski as trial counsel in the above-captioned matter. Plaintiff reserves the right to amend this designation as necessary.

ARBITRATION CERTIFICATION

I, Mark Mailman, counsel of record do hereby certify pursuant to Local Civil Rule 201.1(d) that relief other than monetary damages is sought and that the damages sought are in excess of $150,000. I further certify that, to my knowledge, the within case in not related to any case now pending or within one year previously terminated action in this court.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

FRANCIS & MAILMAN, P.C.                             

BY:        /s/ Mark Mailman                            

MARK MAILMAN, ESQUIRE

GREGORY GORSKI, ESQUIRE

Land Title Building, 19th Floor

100 South Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19110

(215) 735-8600

Attorneys for Plaintiff

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