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Car Buyers Wrongly Labelled as Dangerous Persons

Caddell & Chapman represents a certified Class of would-be car buyers who were inaccurately reported as “Hits” to a list of terrorists, drug traffickers, and enemies of the United States. The Plaintiff was a consumer who went to a car dealership with his father and sister to buy a car. When the dealership purchased a credit check from Defendant Credit Bureau Connection, Inc. (CBC), CBC reported that he matched a North Korean Specially Designated National (SDN), whom the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) prohibits from transacting business in the United States for national security reasons. The Plaintiff was denied credit in front of his father and sister, causing him to feel embarrased, ashamed, and angry.

When the Plaintiff requested a copy of his report, he learned that CBC had matched him as a “Hit” to the OFAC list based on a “similarity” between his name and that of the North Korean national, despite the fact that their names are spelled differently and that they have different dates of birth. He filed suit on behalf of others who had also been the subject of such inaccurate “OFAC Hits” on CBC reports. In discovery, Platintiff learned that he was not alone: CBC had sold at least 488 reports containing an “OFAC Hit” between October 2016 and September 2019. These supposed “Hits” were based on CBC’s “similar name” algorithm script, which checks for similarities based on first and last name only, without considering other information, including middle names, dates of birth, or addresses that could have easily shown the “Hits” were inaccurate. Of these 488 so-called “Hits,” CBC was not aware of a single “Hit” that actually correctly matched a consumer with a dangerous person on the OFAC list.

On March 4, 2022, Judge Anthony W. Ishii of the Eastern District of California certified a Class consisting of “All individuals about whom Defendant prepared a report that (1) included an OFAC ‘Hit;’ (2) was published to a third party from October 2, 2013 to March 4, 2022 and (3) included a U.S. address (including U.S. Territories) for that individual.” Plaintiff seeks statutory damages of $100-$1,000 under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) for each violation. Judge Ishii noted that under Ninth Circuit law “an award ‘near the high end of the range’ is clearly justified when the defendant willfully violates the FCRA, like Credit Bureau is alleged to have done here, by recklessly labeling hundreds of consumers as sanctioned individuals without taking basic steps to verify the accuracy of these labels.” The case is Kang v. Credit Bureau Connection, Inc., No. 1:18-cv-01359-AWI-SKO (E.D. Cal.).

Caddell & Chapman believes that no one should be inaccurately “matched” to a terrorist or drug dealer when a simple check of the relevant names, dates of birth, or addresses would show that they are different people. If you have been injured by an inaccurate OFAC check, we would appreciate hearing from you.

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