Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. recently filed a class action lawsuit in Pennsylvania federal court against the TransUnion credit reporting agency alleging that the company violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act when it misreported two terrorist alerts on a credit report based simply upon a man having the same first name as two individuals on the government’s OFAC watch list.
This lawsuit follows two previous lawsuits the firm filed against TransUnion over the same misreporting that led to punitive damages verdicts, including a record verdict under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
In March 2020, our client, the plaintiff in the case, sought pre-approval for a mortgage but his applications were denied based on information in his credit report. After requesting copies of his credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, our client noticed something on his credit report from TransUnion that was not on his reports from the other two credit reporting agencies. According to the complaint, TransUnion’s report claimed that our client’s name matched the names of two people on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN). SDNs are people prohibited from transacting business in the United States for national security reasons.
According to the complaint, the matches were incorrect. One of the names matched our client’s first name, but not his last name. In addition, according to TransUnion’s report, the birthdate of this first person was almost 20 years earlier than our client’s birthdate. The second allegedly matching name, again, only matched our client’s first name and, according to TransUnion’s report, had a birthdate of more than 35 years earlier than his.
Contrary to TransUnion’s report on him, our client is not on the OFAC SDN list nor on any other government watch list, and his name does not match any name on the OFAC SDN list. In fact, our client was a lawful United States permanent resident who proudly became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and bravely served the U.S. military as a contractor.
To make matters worse, according to the complaint, our client has reason to believe that TransUnion sold credit reports about him with these false and inaccurate terrorist connections to 11 organizations from February 2019 through April 2020.
“Despite TransUnion having our client’s full name, address, social security number, and date of birth, it appears that the company ignored most of that information, and instead associated him with the terrorist watch list because his first name was Ahmed,” said Jim Francis, a partner at Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. “It is astounding to us that, given the extremely defamatory nature of the information and having been hit with punitive damages twice for the same conduct, TransUnion continues to recklessly use the same loose name-matching logic.”
In 2007, a federal jury awarded a Colorado woman, Sandra Cortez, $800,000 after TransUnion sold a credit report about her in 2005 to a car dealership that falsely claimed she matched the name of a drug trafficker, Sandra Cortes Quintero, despite the women having different names and birthdates.
In 2017, a federal jury awarded a California man, Sergio Ramirez, and the class of people he represented, $60 million after TransUnion sold a credit report about him in 2011 to a car dealership that falsely claimed that he matched the names of two suspected terrorists despite having a different middle name and birthdate than those individuals.
Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. attorneys represented Ms. Cortez, Mr. Ramirez, and the class of people he represented in their lawsuits.
“Despite two juries and two appeals courts telling TransUnion that its failure to use all available personal identifying information when determining whether consumers are suspected terrorists is a flagrant violation of federal law, TransUnion apparently continues to disregard its legal obligations,” said John Soumilas, a partner at Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. “As one of the federal judges who presided over Ms. Cortez’s case said himself, TransUnion’s actions when it comes to false terrorist alerts was—and still is—‘reprehensible.’”
Our client’s complaint alleges that TransUnion violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by willfully failing to follow reasonable procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of the credit reports it sold. As the lead plaintiff in the class action, our client seeks to represent: (i) all people residing in the U.S. and its Territories about whom TransUnion prepared a credit report that included any OFAC record beginning five years prior to the filing of the lawsuit; (ii) the members of the first group whose TransUnion reports claimed they matched a person on the OFAC SDN list but that match was not a character-for-character match to their first and last names; and (iii) the members of the first group whose TransUnion reports claimed they matched a person on the OFAC SDN list but that person had a different year of birth than they did.
If your credit report contains an inaccurate terrorist or government watchlist alert, you may be able to recover damages against the credit reporting agency that created the report. Click here or call 215-735-8600 to schedule a free case review with a representative of Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. Located in Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco, we serve clients nationwide.