Eleventh Circuit Examines Meaning of ‘Legitimate Business Need’

In Domante v. Dish Networks, L.L.C. (“Dish”), the Eleventh Circuit examined permissible purposes for obtaining a credit report.  A copy of the opinion is available here

Plaintiff-Appellant Peri Domante was the apparent victim of identity theft.  In 2011 and 2013, identity thieves opened accounts in her name with Dish Networks, L.L.C.  After being alerted to the fraud, Plaintiff sued Dish and Equifax for alleged non-compliance with FCRA.  That litigation was settled in October 2016.  The settlement agreement provided that Dish would “flag [Plaintiff’s] social security number in order to preclude any persons from attempting to obtain new [Dish] services by utilizing [Plaintiff’s] social security number.”  Dish complied by adding Plaintiff’s identifying information to an internal system meant to flag unauthorized use.

Fast-forward to January 12, 2017, and an unknown individual submitted an online application to Dish using Plaintiff’s last four digits of her social security number, her date of birth, and first name. The application used a different last name, address, and telephone number.  As part of its normal process, Dish’s automated system submitted the information to a CRA to verify the individual’s identity. The CRA matched the application to Plaintiff’s name and Dish blocked the application.  Further, Dish requested the hard inquiry from Plaintiff’s credit report be removed. 

Based on these facts, Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit against Dish, alleging Dish negligently and willfully obtained her credit report in January 2017 without a permissible purpose in violation of 1681b.  In addition to the FCRA claims, Plaintiff asserted a cause of action for breach of the settlement agreement.  On January 23, 2018 (while the litigation was pending), the exact same factual scenario happened again:  an unknown individual applied for an account in Plaintiff’s name using the last four numbers of her social security number; Dish’s automated system sent the request to a CRA; CRA matched the information to Plaintiff; Dish blocked the account and requested the hard inquiry be removed.  FULL ARTICLE

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