Identity Theft Claims in Texas That Were Won by Consumer Attorneys

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30 May, 2024
David Chami
2 min
284
Texas city skyscrapers

When Texas-sized Identity Theft Problems Tumble In With the Wind, Only Consumer Attorneys Can Run Them Out of Town!

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the scope and scale of horrendous identity theft scams and the big gaps in recovery. With problems this big, knowing the law is everything. At Consumer Attorneys, we’re the “sheriff” you need to run credit mistakes and bad reporting off of your credit and right out of town. Call today to get back to good.

When Identity Theft Itself Isn’t The Worst Problem

$75K from Equifax for Prolonging the Pain

In August 2021, our client ZJ was alerted by a subscription-based credit monitoring service about unauthorized credit applications made to Sheffield Financial, SSFCU, and OneMain. Believing these to be the result of identity theft, ZJ promptly contacted these institutions to dispute the fraudulent applications. He provided detailed personal information and documentation in each case to support his claims. Thanks to ZJ's proactive measures, local authorities apprehended and prosecuted the identity thief. ZJ’s efforts to resolve the issues with his Equifax credit report, however, would be less successful. 

ZJ’s efforts to resolve the fraudulent entries on his Equifax credit report were met with inexplicable obstacles at every turn. Astonishingly, Equifax flouted the tenets of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and failed to properly investigate and correct ZJ’s credit report. 

In August 2021, the same month in which the identity theft was discovered, ZJ sent his first comprehensive dispute letter to Equifax, requesting the removal of the fraudulent inquiries. Despite providing sufficient identification and supporting documentation, Equifax failed to take any meaningful action even though it acknowledged the fraud. Equifax demanded that ZJ resubmit his dispute with additional proof of identity. 

ZJ did so and continued to dispute the fraudulent entries with Equifax. Between August 2021 and January 2023, ZJ disputed the inaccurate entries on his Equifax credit report five times. Each and every time, ZJ provided extensive documentation, including police reports and identity theft affidavits. Despite his noble efforts, Equifax did not reinvestigate the disputed inquiries from Sheffield Financial, SSFCU, and OneMain, nor did they remove the fraudulent entries.

In January 2023, ZJ escalated his efforts, submitting multiple disputes and making numerous phone calls. On January 2, he again informed Equifax of the identity theft, but the response was a request to resubmit his dispute in writing. On January 5, he sent another dispute letter with all necessary documentation, yet Equifax's response remained dismissive.

Equifax's failure to adequately investigate and address ZJ’s disputes persisted. He spoke with various representatives and supervisors at Equifax, who continued to demand resubmission of documents, claiming illegibility. Despite ZJ's clear evidence and ongoing communication, Equifax did not remove the fraudulent entries.

Throughout January 2023, he sent additional disputes and follow-ups. Despite some inquiries being acknowledged as fraudulent by other financial institutions, Equifax maintained the disputed entries on his credit file. The company's responses were repetitive and unhelpful, repeatedly asking for the same documentation and failing to take effective action.

By the end of January, after numerous disputes, calls, and extensive documentation submissions, Equifax still had not resolved the issue. Their final response was another form letter requesting identification documents, showing a continued failure to investigate and rectify the fraudulent entries on the credit report.

This is also around the time that ZJ contacted Consumer Attorneys. In March 2023, our partner Sylvia Bolos filed suit on ZJ’s behalf in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas against Equifax, Sheffield, SSFCU, and Truist Bank. As of October 2023, Ms. Bolos had reached a settlement with Equifax for $75,000, helping to assuage some of the misery that Equifax’s non-compliance with the law had put ZJ through. 

Think Identity Theft is Only by Strangers? Think Again

$220K won’t heal the wounds, but it helps! 

In 2017, A.P. learned that her sister and her sister’s boyfriend engaged in a shocking violation of her trust by visiting a Mitsubishi dealer and using A.P.’s personal identifying information to apply for an automobile loan. This act of identity theft ultimately launched a battle from which it would take A.P. years to recover!

The thieves provided identification in the form of a temporary driver’s permit containing some of A.P.’s information that had been made to look as though it were in the sister’s name and had been signed by the sister. This fraud went unknown to A.P. until late 2021 when she discovered that a company called First Tech and Financial Assistance, Inc. (“First Tech”) was reporting negative information related to the fraudulent car loan on A.P.’s credit reports.

In October 2021, A.P. contacted First Tech and told them she was a victim of identity theft, naming her sister as the perpetrator. Despite assurances from First Tech that it would notify law enforcement and mark the account as identity theft, it did neither. In fact, the only thing First Tech managed to do was update A.P.’s file with her current email address and phone number.

The next month, A.P. disputed the inaccurate information with the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), and each one forwarded her dispute directly to First Tech using an Automated Consumer Dispute Verification (ACDV) form. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), when First Tech received the ACDVs, it was required to conduct a reasonable investigation into the disputed information and correct or delete anything that was unverifiable. 

Outrageously, when First Tech received the first ACDV from Equifax without attached documents, it denied the dispute based on its own internal procedure, which requires attached documents for identity theft allegations. Even worse, despite having A.P.’s current contact information, First Tech never notified her that additional documents were needed. 

Over the months from November 2021 to June 2022, A.P. continued to submit about half a dozen additional disputes, but First Tech’s procedure was to disregard additional disputes unless new information or documents were provided. So it continued to do nothing about the identity theft lies. The only step First Tech took was to verify that its records matched the information furnished to the credit bureaus, but never reinvestigated the information in dispute. In other words, First Tech just kept self-confirming the information and never considered the identity theft scenario at all. This blatant disregard for the identity theft updates even included essentially ignoring a dispute in which A.P. provided TransUnion new information and attached documents, including a police report.

Finally, in June 2022, A.P. contacted Consumer Attorneys. After working up her case, our managing partner David Chami filed a lawsuit on A.P.’s behalf, suing First Tech and the three credit bureaus for the identity theft nightmare they kept alive. During the lawsuit, First Tech admitted that its only action in responding to A.P.’s initial dispute was to verify that its records matched the information furnished to the credit bureaus. First Tech also admitted that its verification process would never determine if identity theft had occurred, which means that its reinvestigations into A.P.’s dispute would never address the fundamental problem- identity theft! 

Because the Fair Credit Report Act requires that consumer reports only contain accurate information, and in light of the egregious disregard for accuracy in A.P.’s credit reports, David was able to negotiate a very favorable settlement for A.P., totaling nearly $220,000! 

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David A. Chami, Esq. is the Managing Partner at Consumer Attorneys Law Firm
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