A proposed class action suit claims Equifax Information Services Inc. and agent RMB World Enterprises, which operates as Decisionlinks, violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by selling prescreened consumer data to third parties, including co-defendant Platinum Plus Printing, for illicit marketing purposes.
The FCRA was passed by Congress in 1970 and is designed to “[regulate] the purposes for which the personal and private information maintained by Consumer Reporting Agencies such as Equifax may be used and disseminated,” the case begins. The statute lists several permissible purposes for offering up customer information, one of which allows lists of pre-approved customers to be given to legitimate lenders able to make customers “firm offers of credit.” Under the FCRA, the suit says, consumer data cannot be used for targeted marketing purposes unless the agency that received the data plans to make a firm credit offer. The FCRA also requires credit reporting agencies such as Equifax to “make a reasonable effort” to screen companies that request consumer data to make sure they are legitimate and that the outfit plans to use the data for approved purposes.
According to the complaint, Platinum Plus Printing, a direct mail marketing company focused on vehicle deals, approached Equifax and Decisionlinks in August 2017 in search of a “count” of pre-screened customers, focusing specifically on individuals’ credit scores, repossession histories and bankruptcies. Equifax and Decisionlinks allegedly agreed to furnish data to Platinum, who reportedly used this data in a direct mail marketing campaign for a Houston Nissan dealership.
Platinum made similar data requests for a Kia dealership in Virginia and several other businesses across the country, the lawsuit says. In its direct mail marketing materials, Platinum supposedly informed proposed class members that they had been pre-approved for a loan; however, the complaint alleges this statement was false and that no firm offer of credit was ever made, as the company Platinum advertised as the lender—Geneva Financial Services—was neither a lender nor permitted to do business in the states of Texas and Virginia.
The suit further claims that Equifax and Decisionlinks were aware that Platinum planned to use the consumer reports for illicit purposes yet neglected their duty to protect consumer privacy by supplying the data anyway.
“Defendants placed their business interests above their obligations to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the interest of safeguarding the privacy rights of consumers because they made substantial profits by selling and using consumer reports for impermissible target marketing purposes,” the lawsuit alleges.
The proposed class includes all 63,584 individuals whose consumer reports were accessed by Platinum for the above purposes.
The suit requests $1,000 in damages for each violation.