Mixed Files: Crabill v. Trans Union

Father-Son, Mother-Daughter, Junior-Senior-Trey [Generational Designators], Common Names, Variations on Social Security Numbers and Other Mixed File Issues
David A. Szwak

Mixed Files: Crabill v. Trans Union

Postby David A. Szwak » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:53 pm

Mixed Files; 1681e[b], 1681i

Crabill v. Trans Union, L.L.C., 92 F.Supp.2d 796 [U.S.D.C. C.D. Ill. 4/17/00] [Another PRO SE nightmare coupled with a cherry-picked forum].
This case can best be summed up as a “cherry-picked case.” Consumer sued under FCRA claiming that TU’s procedures for responding to requests for credit reports, when more than one report matches the request, was unreasonable and violated the FCRA. TU moved for summary judgment. The motion was granted against this PRO SE plaintiff. The court repeatedly stated that plaintiff failed to submit evidence to oppose the motion. Here, plaintiff and his brother has SSN’s which differed by a single digit [8 of 9 match]. TU kept merging the brothers’ credit data. Plaintiff was denied credit and sued, erroneously labeling his action a 1681s-2 action, instead of a 1681e[b] action. The court noted the 1681e[b] burden “..that a credit reporting agency prepared a report containing inaccurate information,” citing Cahlin, 936 F.2d 1151, 1156. CRAs are not strictly liable. The court parroted the argument of TU finding that TU generated reports to its subscribers but placed “warning” and “messages” to alert the subscriber that multiple possibility files would be merged together in the single document returned to the subscriber and that more than one consumer might be at issue in the data returned. Plaintiff argued that the return of multiple data files joined together created a “false impression” that the entire document pertained to him. The court characterized the matter as though separate credit reports were transmitted allowing the subscriber/creditor to easily determine that there were two different consumers’ files enclosed. [This of course would violate 1681b as to the brother whose report was not requested.] The court even admitted that the creditor who denied plaintiff credit could not discern the alleged simplicity of the mixed/merged file data. [“...resulted from anything other than Credco’s misinterpretation of the information provided by TU.”] The court also suggested that a Credco report somehow differs from a TU report. This, of course, ignores the obvious fact that a Credco mortgage report is a mixture of the three CRA system credit reports into one more comprehensive [and sometimes vastly inaccurate] mortgage report. The court found that a balancing test must be used in misleading report cases. The court must weigh the potential that the information will create a misleading impression against the availability of more accurate information and the burden of providing such information.” The court provided a skewed analysis of TU’s subscriber inquiry process and matching algorithm at TU. The court stated that we just do not live in an “ideal world” and that “...the realities of the world we live in are such...” that TU’s files are just going to be merged and mixed. The court went on to opine that it is better to have the loose matching process and bizarre report merging/mixing process than to risk the chance that a file might not include an item of data and thereby be incomplete in some respect. To justify its sorry analysis, the court kept stating, time and again, that these really were two different, separate and distinct files transmitted to the creditor, upon request. The court even took a shot at the subscribers by stating that only a subscriber lacking in skill or prudence would fail to see the “manner of presentation and warnings...” and realize that these were two different people reported about. In a rather flippant, closing paragraph the court stated that it “is not unsympathetic to the inconvenience and confusion that Crabill has obviously suffered as a result of TU’s policy of transmitting his brother’s credit file as a possible match in response to subscribers’ inquiries.” This opinion won an award from me. It is the most ignorant opinion I have ever read.

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