Class Action Claims Columbia Debt Recovery Misused Consumer Reports in Debt Dispute

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Columbia Debt Recovery Is Accused Of Violations Of The Fair Credit Reporting Act In A New Class Action Lawsuit

Your personal consumer report, a sensitive document that provides a window into your financial and employment histories, isn’t something you want in the hands of just anyone, and its protection is guaranteed by federal laws. So when one man found out Columbia Debt Recovery had accessed his and ran a credit check over a debt he says he didn’t owe, he took action.

Wrongly charged

Ohio math teacher Brandon Evans filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Columbia Debt Recovery LLC accusing the company of invading his privacy and violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. 

The lawsuit stems from a $262 charge tied to an apartment in Evans’ name, but Evans argues that he was the victim of identity theft and the unpaid charge is “the result of a fraudster’s unauthorized use of some of his personal identifiable information.”

Columbia Debt Recovery reported the debt to the credit bureaus and in October requested Evans’ consumer report from TransUnion. Because the request didn’t stem from a credit transaction made by Evans, he argues the company did not have “a permissible purpose” and, as such, invaded his privacy and broke the law. 

Make sure debt is yours

Debt collectors are barred from unlawful, deceptive, and unfair practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has tips that if a debt collector contacts you, use the opportunity to find out about the debt to determine if the collector is legitimate and if you really owe the money. Be sure to gather detailed records about the collector, creditor, amount of debt, and calls you receive, which can help you build a case if you need to report them.

If the debt is not yours, dispute it. If it is legitimate, the agency recommends responding as soon as possible, even if it turns out you don’t owe anything. Delays could lead to negative impacts on your credit report. 

How to find out if your data is stolen

Despite your best efforts at keeping personal information safe, data breaches on large companies are frequently exposing our personal information. To find out if your information has been accessed and leaked, take the following steps:

  • Monitor data breach notifications in the news 
  • Check websites like Have I Been Pwned to see if your information appears
  • Use a data breach detection service 
  • Frequently check your online accounts and review login attempts
  • Enable two-factor authentication and change passwords
  • Be aware of latest scams and phishing techniques

Other credit reporting act lawsuits

The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees consumers will have access to a process to address issues and items reflected in their credit report, a vital tool for wealth building, Carver Federal Savings Bank President and CEO Michael Pugh told Fortune. “It also requires credit reporting agencies to maintain privacy of consumers’ personal information.” 

Columbia Debt Recovery isn’t the only company to be hit with legal action over violations of the law. Atlantic Recovery Solutions paid almost $52,000 to settle a class action lawsuit accusing it of violations of the law, Accounts Recovery reported. Meanwhile, Enhanced Recovery Co. paid a $450,000 settlement to consumers in a class action lawsuit ending another lawsuit centered on alleged violations of the law,

In this proposed class action lawsuit, Evans wants to represent consumers across the country to recuperate damages from Columbia Debt Recovery LLC. 

The plaintiff and proposed class are represented by Seth M. Lehrman, Esq. or Lehrman Law, John A. Love Esq. of Love Consumer Law, and Robert W. Murphy, Esq. of Law Office of Robert W. Murphy. 

The Columbia Debt Recovery class action lawsuit is Evans v. Columbia Debt Recovery, LLC, Case No. 5:24-cv-00410-DAP, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division.

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