A proposed class action alleges fintech firm Early Warning Services, LLC has unlawfully failed to provide copies of consumer files or reports unless a specific form is filled out.
The 12-page case claims that Early Warning Services, the bank-owned operator of popular money transfer service Zelle, has violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to provide copies of consumer reports to those who request them with appropriate identification.
The plaintiff, a St. Joseph County, Indiana resident, says he requested his consumer file from Early Warning Services on three separate occasions within the past two years and provided supporting documentation to prove his identity. Nevertheless, the defendant, who sells consumer reports to more than 2,500 financial institutions, failed to promptly provide the man with a copy of his file or report unless he filled out a particular form, according to the case.
Per the suit, one or more of the plaintiff’s bank and credit accounts was closed “without … legitimate explanation” from his financial institution, and the man was “justifiably worried” that the closure was a result of false or derogatory information in his Early Warning Services file.
“The Plaintiff had a right to learn the true reason for the account closures, whether false, derogatory and misleading information was in his file and/or had been shared in an EWS consumer report,” the complaint states, claiming the man then requested a copy of the report from the defendant via letter in June 2020.
According to the suit, the plaintiff included in his first request certain identifying information, including his name, address, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth, driver’s license number and a photocopy of both sides of his driver’s license.
The case says Early Warning Services responded to the plaintiff’s request by sending a “non-responsive boilerplate letter” with a “Consumer Identification and Certification Form” for the man to fill out. Per the suit, the defendant’s form requested “the exact identifying information” that the plaintiff had already provided in his letter.
The complaint says the plaintiff then sent a second letter to the defendant requesting a copy of his file and again included all of the identifying information from the first letter, plus an Indiana notary acknowledgment.
According to the case, the company replied “with the same kind of non-responsive, boilerplate letter” and form requesting information the plaintiff had already provided.
The plaintiff sent another request in February 2021 and, along with the identifying information provided in the previous two requests, also included a copy of the identification page on his passport and copies of a utilities bill and bank statement, the complaint relays.
Per the suit, Early Warning Services again responded with the same boilerplate letter and form requesting “all of the exact identifying information and proof of identity” that the plaintiff had already provided.
The lawsuit argues that the plaintiff’s requests were “objectively compliant” with the Fair Credit Reporting Act requirement that proper identification be provided with a request for a consumer report. Moreover, the FCRA does not authorize Early Warning Services to refuse to comply with such a request unless the consumer fills out a particular form, the case says.
The suit further claims that Early Warning Services failed to include in each of its communications with the plaintiff certain required disclosures pertaining to his FCRA rights.
“To this day, Plaintiff has not been able to review and correct any derogatory, false or misleading information in his EWS report or file,” the case claims.
The plaintiff looks to represent natural persons residing in the U.S. who, at any time within the past five years and until the date of class certification, requested from Early Warning Services a disclosure of their consumer file or report and included appropriate identifying information, but the defendant failed to provide all information required by the FCRA unless the consumer completed a special form.
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