Appeals Court Ruling on ID Theft Lawsuits

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I've mentioned my friend and fellow advocate Eric Drew a few times in this blog; long-time readers may recall that he is a leukemia survivor who had his identity stolen while undergoing cancer treatment.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, then you'll be shocked to learn that the person who stole his identity was a worker at the hospital where he was undergoing lifesaving treatment.  The banks that issued credit cards in his name based on phone conversations didn't bother to verify the addresses and other information used in the applications, and when he contacted them to point out that he didn't even live in the state where they were issued the banks actually demanded that he prove it wasn't him despite him being hospitalized at the time!

Over the course of two years, these banks recorded delinquencies from these accounts on Eric's credit reports.  He filed lawsuits to fight back against the delinquencies, and I've let people know about the landmark settlement with TransUnion and the judgment of over $1 million awarded to him against Equifax that came from his legal battles before.  It's been an uphill battle, though, especially against banks such as Bank of America and Chase who are ironically protected in part by a law that was designed to protect consumers.
The problem with Eric's lawsuits against the banks is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which as I've brought up before states that consumers have no right to sue banks for reporting false information --however, the FCRA doesn't prevent consumers from circumventing that law and suing for defamation or even something called "negligent enablement of identity fraud."(see more)  For Eric, and those who find themselves following in his footsteps, fortunately, some judges within the Judicial System agree that Congress seemed to ignore the strong evidence that banks and department stores are responsible for some credit bureau errors when it limited a consumer's right to sue creditors for errors in their credit reports, and have allowed lawsuits to progress under the authority of a much stronger California consumer protection law.

The California Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act allows California residents the right to sue banks that knowingly submit false reports to credit agencies even though the FCRA had been used to preempt similar lawsuits in the past.

This preemption is an important point in Eric's story, because the banks managed to successfully use it against him around the same time.  A federal judge granted the banks' request to throw out his case due to the wording of the FCRA since it was federal law, and he was barred from suing under California law as well.  For some people that might have been the end of the story, but Eric is a fighter... and by refusing to give up, he still has a strong chance of coming out on top using the exact same law that the banks were trying to use against him.

An appeals judge recently overturned the previous court's decision, declaring that the banks had failed to stop reporting as required under the FCRA after Eric got TransUnion to send fraud notifications about his credit history.  Previous portions of the lawsuits that had been dismissed due to statute of limitations expirations were also reinstated under the reasoning that the clock for the lawsuits didn't start until Eric actually became aware of the problems, not when the problems first occurred.

Eric still has a long road ahead of him, but he is a dedicated advocate who will stand his ground. There's no question that he'll see this fight through to the bitter end.  He has a strong case, he has earned a decisive victory against the banks' efforts to shut him down and as a true advocate, Eric is armed with a passion that fueled by his conviction to use his voice and life experiences to help make a difference for others. Though Eric isn't able to revive his lawsuit against the banks at the state level, he has the chance to make history by taking on the banks at the federal level and striking a definitive blow for consumers everywhere.

Eric launched the Eric Drew Foundation,  a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in order to help provide advocacy and education to seriously ill patients and their families. You can learn much more about Eric's efforts and his organization by visiting 

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