Just Sign the Authorization

September 29, 2020

Plaintiffs be warned – failing to sign an authorization permitting litigants access to your consumer report may result in sanctions. The Eastern District of Virginia recently ordered a reluctant plaintiff pay sanctions because a company had to seek a court order requiring her to sign a credit report authorization.

In plaintiff’s FDCPA lawsuit against Grand Brands, there is a single allegation – Grand Brands failed to mark its debt collection account as disputed on plaintiff’s Equifax credit report.  Obviously a key document, Grand Brands sought plaintiff’s credit report from Equifax. But as we know, access to a third-party credit report requires a signed authorization from the consumer. Here, that means plaintiff would have to sign an authorization granting Grand Brands access to her credit report. However, when Grand Brands sought plaintiff’s signed authorization for her credit report, she refused.

Grand Brands then asked the court for help, and the court ordered plaintiff to sign the authorization. What’s more, the court permitted Grand Brands to seek the attorney’s fees and costs incurred with its motion to compel. Although the exact amount of attorney’s fees and costs that will be assessed against plaintiff have not yet been determined, this case is a salient reminder that obstructive litigation tactics do not pay in consumer litigation.

You can read the entire Vaughn v. Grand Brands, LLC, 2020 WL 5743215, No. 2:19-cv-596 (ED of VA) opinion here.