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Inaccurate Online Credit Report Is Sufficient Harm Under Fair Credit Act

(August 17, 2017)’s publishing of an inaccurate credit report online is sufficient concrete harm to support a claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).

The ruling by the Ninth Circuit means that Thomas Robins may pursue his case against Spokeo, Inc. under the FCRA. The trial court originally dismissed his claim for lack of standing because he did not allege any injury in fact. The Ninth Circuit reversed. The U.S. Supreme Court remanded the matter back to the appellate court to further consider whether he alleged sufficient concrete harm.

Robins claimed that FCRA required Spokeo to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum accuracy for the information contained in his consumer report and that the failure to follow proper procedures was a violation of the Act. The Supreme Court directed the appellate court to examine the nature of the reporting inaccuracies “to ensure that they raise a real risk of harm to the concrete interests that FCRA protects.”

The appellate court said it did not need to conduct a thorough review of the record “because it is clear to us that Robin’s allegations relate facts that are substantially more likely to harm his concrete interests.” The court noted that Robins “specifically alleged that Spokeo falsely reported that he is married with children, that he is in his 50s, that he is employed in a professional or technical field, that he has a graduate degree, and that his wealth level is higher than it is.” In fact, Robins was unemployed and the inaccuracies “caused actual harm to [his] employment prospects,” and even though the injury is intangible, it is “sufficiently concrete” to establish standing.

Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., Ninth Cir. No. 11-56843, filed August 15, 2017.