4 Types of money damages you can recover under the FCRA
What type of damages can you get from an FCRA lawsuit?
There are 4 types of damages you can recover when suing under the FCRA:
- Mental Anguish / Emotional Distress
There is false credit reporting and you have the ability to sue.
Typically this means you have done a dispute through the credit bureau and it doesn’t get fixed.
Now, this false credit reporting causes problems for you.
- Your promotion is denied because you didn’t get the security clearance required for your job.
- You get turned down for a mortgage and are unable to get a house.
- Refinancing your mortgage resulted in a higher interest rate.
- There is false information on a traditional credit report or a background screening report when you are trying to get an apartment or a job that could prevent you from achieving your goals.
These are just a few of the ways false credit reporting can inflict emotional distress.
You have given the bureaus or the furnishers the chance to fix this but they haven’t.
This is very upsetting.
This causes mental anguish and emotional distress.
In most jurisdictions, you can recover damages for mental anguish.
There is a bit of science to figuring out how to get awarded a large amount for emotional distress from a jury. Find a lawyer who has experience in this area.
Similar examples can be used to demonstrate economic damage.
For example, you were turned down for a promotion because of the false information on your credit report.
That promotion would have added an extra $25,000 a year to your salary.
This is very upsetting (mental anguish) but also causes economic loss.
Maybe you were turned down for a home loan, or refinanced your home and ended up with a monthly payment that cost $250 more.
Over the life of the loan, this will cost you $90,000.
This also represents an economic loss.
Typically, we combine Mental Anguish and Economic Damage to comprise what we call Actual Damages or Compensatory damages.
The purpose of these damages is to compensate for what has been done to the consumer.
The next two damages only occur when the credit bureau or furnisher has acted recklessly or intentionally.
If the credit bureau or furnisher has been reckless and intentional in their violations of the FCRA, statutory damages will apply.
These damages are up to $1,000 per violation.
There could be one violation or there could be many more. You would receive up to $1000 for each one.
The jury awards punitive damages for two reasons — to punish the company and to send a message to other companies.
These companies should be held accountable for willfully violating the law and messing with the credit reports or the background screenings of consumers.
This also sends an important message to other companies: do not violate the FCRA in a reckless, intentional manner.
Usually, you will see punitive damages awarded in terms of a number times the actual damages.
For example, you may only receive $50,000 in actual damages but are also awarded ten times the actual damages ($500,000).
When compensatory damages are low, a judge will typically go with a higher ratio of punitive damages.
When compensatory damages are high, you may see a lower ratio of punitive damages.
If you are dealing with this type of credit reporting, get with a lawyer who does this type of work.
Find a lawyer who knows how to stand in front of a jury, argue emotional distress damages, be able to prove economics damages (whether obvious or through bringing in an economist or other expert), convince a judge first and a jury second that this was intentional and reckless.
While we want the statutory damages, we really want the punitive damages.
Find a lawyer that you’re comfortable with, that you have a good connection with, that can argue and present the evidence in the right way for all 4 types of damages, if appropriate.
Our background is in personal injury and fraud cases. Through these types of cases, we have learned how to argue emotional distress and punitive damages.
Now, we’ve carried that over into our consumer practice.
If you live in Alabama, you are welcome to call us at 1-205-879-2447, or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you quickly.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!