In these consolidated cases, seven plaintiffs claimed their consumer debts were not owned by the creditors listed on their credit reports and requested that the credit reporting agencies investigate their claims. Credit reporting agencies verified debt ownership with creditors and debtors were informed. Plaintiffs felt the investigations by the credit reporting agencies were inadequate and sued under 15 U.S.C. §1681i of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In all cases, district courts either dismissed claims or granted judgment on the pleadings to the creditors. The consolidated case (Chuluunbat v. Experian Info. Sols., Inc., 4 F.4th 562 (7th Cir. 2021)) was heard in the 7th Circuit before Circuit Judges – Wood, Brennan, and St. Eve.
According to Circuit Judge Brennan, ”We are tasked in this FCRA context with discerning the sometimes-murky boundary between ‘law’ and ‘fact.'” The Court held that consumer reporting agencies are “competent to make factual determinations, but they do not reach legal conclusions like courts and other tribunals do.” The types of factual inaccuracies that could be investigated include “the amount a consumer owes, and what day a consumer opened an account or incurred a payment.” The Court ruled that the alleged inaccuracies in the present case required interpreting legal rights to a debt and making legal judgment, which is a task of the courts, not the credit reporting agencies.
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