The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects consumers from violations of privacy, incorrect information on their credit report and misuse of information contained in their credit reports. Those seeking this information often violate these protections in the way they obtain the information and what they do with it once they have it. When such violations are committed intentionally, the party may be found guilty of willful violation of the FCRA, which entitles the victim to damages above and beyond those granted for unintentional or negligent violations.
What Makes a Violation Willful?
This question is one that is often open to interpretation by the court, but, in general, courts accept clearly intentional acts as willful violations as well as “reckless” conduct, whereby an agent’s actions contain an unjustifiably high risk of harm that is either known or so obvious it should be known. As the victim, you do not have to prove that the violator knew it violated your rights, just that they should have known they were breaking the law.
Damages Awarded for Willful Violations
Misuse of credit report information can harm consumers in several ways. A history of debt could lead to loss of a job or a refusal to hire or promote you. A poor credit score can saddle you with higher interested rates on loans or credit cards. If the information on your report is inaccurate or if the information was obtained or used illegally, you could suffer significant financial harm. If you are harmed by a willful violation of your FCRA rights by a credit reporting agency, information furnisher, or other entity using the information, you may sue for the following damages:
Your actual, provable damages, with no limit OR
Statutory damages between $100 and $1000
If you can prove your damages, you can choose the greater of the two awards, but if you cannot prove that the violation actually caused you harm, you will have to settle for the statutory damages.
If your FCRA rights were violated by an individual who lied to get your credit report or used the information illegally, you can choose the greater of the following awards:
Your actual, provable damages, with no limit
You may also be entitled to punitive damages for a willful violation of the FCRA, but that decision will be made by the court.
The Consumer Law Group Takes FCRA Violation Cases
If you believe you are the victim of a willful or reckless violation of your FCRA rights, contact the attorneys at The Consumer Law Group, P.C. We will review your claim and let you know if you have a claim. There are penalties for filing frivolous FCRA claims, so make sure you have a real claim before you file. Call our office today at 804-282-7900.