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Sponer v. Equifax Information Services LLC

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

June 7, 2019


          Michael Fuller OlsenDaines, Robert S. Sola Robert S. Sola, P.C., Kelly D. Jones The Law Office of Kelly D. Jones Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Robert E. Sabido Timothy J. Fransen Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP Attorneys for Defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

          OPINION & ORDER


         Plaintiff Matthew Sponer brings this action against Defendant Wells Fargo, alleging failures to comply with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. Before the Court is Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion.


         Plaintiff is a victim of identity fraud. In the summer of 2016, while Plaintiff was on an extended trip out of the country, his identity was used to purchase a car from a dealer in California. Fransen Decl. Ex. 3, 4, ECF 29. That purchase was financed by a loan from Wells Fargo Dealer Services, a division of Wells Fargo. Sola Decl. Ex. 1, ECF 38.

         Plaintiff learned of the fraud when police in California arrested the man they believed had used Plaintiff's identity to obtain the Wells Fargo loan. See Fransen Decl. Ex. 4, 6. Upon learning of the fraud, Plaintiff's attorney faxed a letter to Wells Fargo. Sola Decl. Ex. 4. In this letter, the attorney explained that Plaintiff's identity had been stolen and that police had already arrested a suspect. Id. He provided the contact information for Detective Tugashov, who he said could confirm this information. Id.

         On the day that Wells Fargo received Plaintiff's letter, it prepared a “Suspected Unusual Activity Form.” Sola Decl. Ex. 5. The form listed Plaintiff's name, address, social security number, and the contact information for Plaintiff's attorney. Id.

         On October 26, 2016, Wells Fargo spoke with, and sent a letter to, Plaintiff's attorney. Sola Decl. Ex. 7 at 5, Fransen Decl. Ex. 5. This letter requested a (1) standard identity theft affidavit; (2) copy of Plaintiff's social security card; (3) copy of Plaintiff's driver's license or other form of identification; and (4) copy of any relevant police report. Fransen Decl. Ex. 5. Defendant asked that this information be provided by November 26, 2016. Id.

         That same day, Wells Fargo also spoke with Detective Tugashov. Fransen Decl. Ex. 6. Detective Tugashov confirmed that he was investigating the case. Id. He told Wells Fargo that a suspect had used Plaintiff's stolen identity to finance the purchase of a car, and that once the case was over, the car would be released to Wells Fargo. Fransen Decl. Ex. 4, 6.

         Wells Fargo stayed in contact with police throughout November and December of 2016. Sola Decl. Ex. 7. On November 3, 2016, for example, Detective Tugashov told Wells Fargo that the suspect had pled guilty and was scheduled to be sentenced. Id. at 4. He again confirmed that the car could be released to Wells Fargo after the suspect was sentenced. Id. On December 13, 2016, Wells Fargo made the following internal note:

Detective Edward Tugashov from Chula Vista Police Department informed us that this was determined to be fraud **unit purchased by a Jason Yachum [sic] after he supposedly stole our customers identity. This person is in custody as of 11/3/16. Our unit is being held as evidence pending sentencing which has now been rescheduled to 1/9/17.

Sola Decl. Ex. 7 at 2.

         During this period of time, Plaintiff also submitted disputes to various credit reporting agencies (CRAs), including Equifax and Experian. Sola Decl. Ex. 8, 9, 10, 11. On or around October 29, 2016, Wells Fargo received the first Automated Consumer Dispute Verification notice (“ACDV”)[1] from Experian. Fransen Decl. Ex. 7. The ACDV explained that “Consumer claim[ed] true identity fraud.” Id. at 1. Wells Fargo received three more ACDVs over the next three weeks. Sola Decl. Exs. 9, 10, 11. Between November and December, Wells Fargo responded to all four ACDVs by indicating that the account belonged to Plaintiff. Sola Decl. Ex. 12 at 1-4.

         In January 2017, the identity thief was sentenced, and the car returned to Wells Fargo. Sola Dec. Ex. 14 at 115-17; Ex. 7 at 1. On January 19, 2017, Plaintiff responded to Wells Fargo's earlier request for information with another letter disputing the fraudulent account. Sola Decl. Ex. 15. This letter included a copy of a police report and an FTC Identity Theft Victim's Complaint and Affidavit. Id. It did not include a copy of Plaintiff's social security card or driver's license. Id. On February 15, 2017, Wells Fargo responded by letter, stating ...

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