Verizon Communications, Inc. has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit that claims the telecommunications giant “routinely and regularly” obtains consumer credit reports without “permissible purpose,” oftentimes on people with no connection to the company.
According to the complaint, the defendant uses credit inquiries to determine whether consumers are eligible for certain Verizon plans. The case contends some of these inquiries, however, are conducted on consumers who have not expressed any interest in Verizon. From the complaint:
“Verizon also conducts credit inquiries of individuals who are neither Verizon customers nor Verizon prospective customers. That is, these are individuals who have not attempted to open an account with Verizon, but yet have still been the victim of a credit inquiry conducted by Defendant.”
With regard to the lead plaintiff, the case claims the man was not a Verizon customer and never inquired about opening an account. He discovered in September 2018, however, that the defendant had obtained his credit report without his permission, the suit explains. A few weeks later, the plaintiff allegedly received a letter informing him that a Verizon Wireless account had been opened in his name; the plaintiff claims that the account was opened fraudulently. Verizon eventually acknowledged that the account in question had not been opened by the plaintiff, the complaint says, yet “still impermissibly obtained Plaintiff’s credit report which contained sensitive private and personal information.”
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), companies such as Verizon may only conduct credit inquiries for “permissible purposes” and must receive written consent from the individual whose records are to be searched prior to running the report, the case explains. Verizon did not conduct its inquiry on the plaintiff for a permissible purpose and never obtained permission to access his credit information, the case says.
According to the complaint, several consumers have complained about fake Verizon accounts being set up in their names. The case claims that Verizon failed to properly implement safeguards designed to protect consumers against this type of fraud and that, as a result, many consumers with no interest in opening accounts have been subjected to illegal credit inquiries.
The suit looks to represent all persons in the U.S. who never authorized Verizon to open an account and had a credit inquiry performed by the defendant without permissible purpose within five years of the complaint’s filing.