Recent Cases Addressing Reseller Liability

Resellers are consumer reporting agencies who purchase consumer credit information from Trans Union, Equifax and Experian and then resell that information. Often resellers combine all three credit files into one report - commonly known as a “tri-merge” credit report. Recent court opinions have addressed whether these resellers are liable under Section 1681e(b) if one agency reports inaccurate information but the other two do not and the reseller subsequently reports all three files.

In Baker v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., No. 14-cv-1011, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82845 (C.D. Cal. June 22, 2015), the credit report at issue was created by Credco (one of the largest resellers in the country) and that report contained inaccurate information obtained by Experian even though the information obtained from Equifax and Trans Union was accurate. In finding that Credco’s procedures were reasonable as a matter of law, the California court reasoned that there is no evidence that all three credit agencies needed to report the same information. Accordingly, "the type of information reported by Experian does not by its existence show inaccuracy.” The court further held that Credco's reports did not contain a "patent error" and were not "incorrect on their face.” The court then concluded that Credco had no duty to notice or correct what the court considered to be latent errors; as opposed to patent errors which other courts have held must be corrected.

In Ocasio v. CoreLogic Credco, LLC, No. No. 14-cv-1585, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130990 (D.N.J. Sept. 29, 2015), is a mixed credit file case in which the consumer alleged that the tri-merged credit report prepared by Credco contained debts belonging to another consumer. Unlike Baker, Ocasio found that "Plaintiff has shown the inaccuracy of this information was obvious on the face of her credit reports which reported accounts owned by individuals with different birth years (1938 vs. 1987)." For this reason, the court rejected Credco's argument that "its procedures were reasonable as a matter of law because it accurately complied and reported information collected from the credit bureaus."