FCRA: Must sue within 2 years of impermissible credit pull

J Thomas Black
Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Posted on Apr 18, 2014

In this case decided by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals the plaintiff Mack filed suit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq., against Equable, as successor in interest to Hilco. 

The plaintiff represented himself in the lawsuit without a lawyer. That is unusual in these kinds of cases, because the FCRA permits "fee shifting" or the payment of the plaintiff's attorney fees by the defendant if the case is successful. So it is usually possible to find an attorney to represent you in FCRA cases, at least if you have a good case.

Mack alleged in his suit that Hilco obtained his consumer credit report without a "permissible purpose" or plaintiff's consent, which violates the section 1681(b) of the FCRA. We often call this an "impermissible pull."

The magistrate court granted Equable's motion for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff's suit was time barred under section 1681p(1) because the lawsuit wasn't filed within 2 years of the plaintiff receiving the report.

The 5th circuit affirmed, concluding that the limitations period began to run when plaintiff discovered that Hilco had obtained his credit report without his consent.

The lesson here is that if you have a claim that you intend to bring, do it timely. Otherwise, your case may be thrown out as being time-barred. I don't know for sure, but that may be why the plaintiff wasn't represented by an attorney to start with, because the attorneys realized or would have realized that the case was time-barred and would likely not be successful.
 

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