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Privacy Rights Secured for 200 Million

On September 5, 2014, Judge James R. Spencer of the Eastern District of Virginia approved a nationwide settlement on behalf of a class of an estimated 200 million consumers. The case was brought against LexisNexis regarding its Accurint for Collections database. Plaintiffs alleged that LexisNexis violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) by selling certain Accurint brand reports—containing substantial detailed personal and credit information—to debt collectors without affording FCRA protections. Before this case, consumers had no way to access or dispute the accuracy of their information in the Accurint database and, in many cases, did not even know that the Accurint database existed.

Under the settlement, LexisNexis will split what is now Accurint for Collections into two newly developed products, each containing different sets of information. One product, “Collections Decisioning,” will be treated as falling within FCRA’s “consumer report” definition, entitling consumers to full FCRA protections, including the right to a free copy of their report, the right to dispute and correct errors in the database, and the right to sue if LexisNexis fails to maintain reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy of the information. The other product, “Contact & Locate,” which does not fall within the ambit of FCRA, will nonetheless provide consumers with FCRA-like rights, such as the right to obtain a free copy of their Contact & Locate reports once per year and the right to submit clarifying information for phone numbers and addresses provided in Contact & Locate reports.

In addition, consumers who contacted LexisNexis to request a copy or dispute the accuracy of their Accurint reports will receive payments of approximately $300, without any requirement to file a claim.  Caddell & Chapman served as co-lead counsel for the class, and Michael Caddell argued on behalf of the class at the final approval hearing.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed Judge Spencer’s decision on December 4, 2015. On October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari.


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