Appeals Court Opinion: Sloan vs. Equifax - identity-theft lawsuit

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The case concerns an instance of identity theft that severely affected the Sloan's emotional and finacial well being causing great turmoil in her home and work life. Equifax's continued failure to respond to the plaintiff's requests and to follow mandated "reasonable" procedures, are spelled out in the appeals court's opinion.

The Fourth Circuit rejected all of Equifax's arguments on liability and most of their arguments as to emotional distress damages, but did reduce the emotional damages from $245,000 to $150,000. (The jury's $106,000 economic damages award was left in place.)

The opinion points out the significant problems Equifax's refusal to correct her credit reports and remove fraudulent accounts, brought on her family. Her claims paint a clear picture of the real consequences innocent victims face when fraud and identity theft strikes. And clearly shows why it often takes years to "fix" it, and how the credit reporting agencies negligence serves to significantly exacerbate the effects of fraud - with little regard for a consumer's rights (and innocence ) and total disregard for the effects of their actions -or inactions!

Here's a small the full Opinion here -Well worth reading.

"After Suzanne Sloane discovered that a thief had stolen her identity
and ruined her credit, she notified the police and sought to have Equifax
Information Services, LLC, a credit reporting service, correct the
resulting errors in her credit report. The police promptly arrested and
jailed the thief. But twenty-one months later, Equifax still had not
corrected the errors in Suzanne's credit report.

On June 25, 2003, Suzanne Sloane entered Prince William Hospital
to deliver a baby. She left the hospital not only a new mother, but also
the victim of identity theft. A recently hired hospital employee named
Shovana Sloan noticed similarity in the women's names and birth
dates and, in November and December 2003, began using Suzanne's
social security number to obtain credit cards, loans, cash advances,
and other goods and services totaling more than $30,000.

At the end of January 2004, Suzanne discovered these fraudulent transactions
when Citibank notified her that it had cancelled her credit card and
told her to contact Equifax if she had any concerns.

Unable to reach Equifax by telephone on a Friday evening,
Suzanne went instead to the Equifax website, where she was able to
access her credit report and discovered Shovana Sloan's name and
evidence of the financial crimes Shovana had committed. Suzanne
promptly notified the police1 and contacted Equifax, which assertedly
placed a fraud alert on her credit file.

Equifax told Suzanne to "roll
up her sleeves" and start calling all of her "20-some"
creditors to
notify them of the identity theft. Suzanne took the next two days off
from work to contact each of her creditors, and, at their direction, she
submitted numerous notarized forms to correct her credit history.
Suzanne, however, continued to experience problems with Equifax..."

Once in a while, it's the things we don't hear -that tell the real story.

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