2020Credit ReportsFCRA
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On August 24, 2020, a Pennsylvania man filed a class action lawsuit in federal court claiming TransUnion violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by mislabeling him as a terrorist on his credit report because his name resembled two people on a terrorist watch list, a news release from the law firm representing the plaintiff stated.

The lawsuit filed by plaintiff Ahmed Al-Shaikli followed two other lawsuits brought against TransUnion – one of the three major nationwide Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA) along with Equifax and Experian – over the same type of misreporting that led to punitive damages verdicts, including a record verdict of $60 million under the FCRA.

In March 2020, Al-Shaikli’s applications for pre-approval of a mortgage were denied based on information in his credit report. After requesting copies of his credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, he noticed something on his credit report from TransUnion that was not on his reports from the other two nationwide CRAs.

The complaint alleged that TransUnion’s report claimed Al-Shaikli’s name matched the names of two people on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) who are prohibited from transacting business in the United States for national security reasons.

According to the complaint, both names matched Al-Shaikli’s first name, but not his last name. In addition, according to TransUnion’s report, the birthdate of the first person was almost 20 years earlier than Al-Shaikli’s while the second allegedly matching name had a birthdate of more than 35 years earlier than his own birthdate.

Contrary to TransUnion’s report, the complaint stated that Al-Shaikli is not on the OFAC SDN list or on any other government watch list, and his name does not match any name on the OFAC SDN list. He is a lawful United States permanent resident who became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and served the U.S. military as a contractor.

Federal juries awarded a Colorado woman $800,000 in 2007 after TransUnion falsely claimed she matched the name of a drug trafficker and awarded a California man and a class of people he represented $60 million in 2017 after TransUnion falsely claimed he matched the names of two suspected terrorists, the news release stated.

Enacted by Congress in 1970, the FCRA promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in the files of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs), protects consumers from the willful and/or negligent inclusion of inaccurate information in their consumer reports, including consumer credit information

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) reminds readers of the ESR News Blog that allegations made in a lawsuit are not proof that a business or individual violated any law, rule, or regulation. There are only allegations and not factual adjudications at the current time. The ESR News Blog is at www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers FCRA-compliant background screening solutions as well as white papers about how employers may avoid FCRA lawsuits and on how CRAs may avoid FCRA lawsuits. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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