On Friday, an Oregon jury sided with Miller, awarding her $18.4 million in punitive damages and $180,000 in compensatory damages.
Justin Baxter, one of Miller’s attorneys, told the AJC on Monday that all three of major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion and Experian, had the erroneous information after Miller’s favorable credit report was “merged” with the poor report of another Oregonian.
Baxter said both Transunion and Experian corrected their reports before the lawsuit was filed against Equifax. “Transunion did it almost immediately. It took Experian a little longer but ultimately it removed the false accounts,” he said. “Equifax wouldn’t handle her disputes and wouldn’t investigate.”
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information on their credit report and consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information. Consumers also may seek damages from violators, the act says.
Shawn Conroy, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, said the state has an open investigation into practices at the three main credit reporting companies. He wouldn’t provide details on the investigation and would only say “we do get complaints.”
In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Miller said she first noticed a problem when she was denied credit from Hubbard Bank due to her Equifax credit report in December 2009.
She requested a copy of her credit report from Equifax, setting the stage for a back-and-forth with the company that would last for two years and a lawsuit and court decision after four years.
In her suit, Miller said she made repeated requests for new copies of her credit report and submitted identifying information requested by Equifax. The information was still incorrect in March 2010, causing another loan from Key Bank to be denied, the suit said.
The same incorrect information was appearing on her credit report by September 2011, and Miller said the company provided no results of any investigation into her problem. She filed a suit a month later after her ninth attempt to get her credit report corrected.
Miller’s attorneys argued that Equifax “willfully” failed to comply with requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Georgians are entitled to three free credit reports every 12 months, according to Conroy: one under federal law and two under Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act.