On November 21, the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a defendant debt collection company’s motion for summary judgment and granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in an FDCPA suit. According to the opinion, the plaintiff sent a letter to the defendant disputing the accuracy of the information being reported to the credit reporting agency, saying the amount of the debt was incorrect. The defendant received the letter on February 1, 2021, and on February 3, the defendant reported the debt to the CRA, but failed to note that the debt was disputed. The CRA then communicated information about plaintiff’s debt to additional third parties. The next reporting cycle for the plaintiff’s account closed on March 3, 2021. At that time, the defendant correctly reported that plaintiff’s debt was disputed. The defendant explained that although the servicer received the plaintiff’s dispute letter on February 1, 2021, “no one was able to analyze, process, and review” it until February 4, 2021, by which time it had already reported the debt to the CRA.
The defendant argued that it can take up to seven business days for its credit review team to review a dispute letter that it receives, and information about a disputed debt may be communicated to third parties in the interim. The defendant also argued that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue because there was no negative impact on her credit score as a result of the dispute not being transmitted.
According to the court, the defendant’s “system tolerates the communication of false information in cases where disputes arrive at its doorstep at the close of its monthly reporting periods, and it lacks procedures for promptly correcting information it later discovers was false at the time it was communicated to a third party.” The court also found that the plaintiff’s constitutional standing does not depend on proof of damage to her credit score.