Earlier this week, a jury in Oregon awarded a woman $18.6 million after she tried unsuccessfully to clear discrepancies on her credit report from the Equifax credit reporting agency. According to the suit, the credit agency mixed her information with that of another person, which made it appear that she had accumulated a significant amount of debt and prevented her from securing credit from banks.
The problems for Julie Miller began in 2009, when she applied for a loan from Huybbard Bank but was denied. The bank told Miller that the denial stemmed from information supplied by her credit report from Equifax. Miller requested a copy of her report from the agency and found numerous mistakes. Most notably, the credit report contained an incorrect Social Security number and birthday, as well as incorrect information about collection efforts on debts that were not hers.
Miller contacted Equifax in an attempt to correct her credit report, but the agency provided her with little help. After she was denied for another loan in 2010 based on her Equifax credit report, the agency told her there was nothing they could do and that she would have to contact her creditors directly to dispute the information.
Miller finally filed suit against Equifax in federal court in late 2011. The factors that caused the jury to give her such a large reward were not only her denied loans, but also the fact that Equifax had sent materials containing her Social Security number to others as a result of its clerical errors.
Equifax has not commented on the verdict.
Source: ABC News, “Jury Awards $18.6M For Equifax Credit Report Mix-up,” Alan Farnham, July 29, 2013