Woman Wins $18.6 Million Lawsuit over Credit Report Mix-up

September 16, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. credit [KRED-it] (n.) – a record showing how well a person is able to pay his or her bills and loans in the past
Example: The bank approved Walter’s loan because his credit was good.
2. derogatory [dih-ROG-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] (adj.) – harmful to one’s reputation
Example: The CEO made derogatory remarks about his company’s main rival.

3. erroneous [uh-ROH-nee-uhs, e-ROH-] (adj.) – incorrect; containing mistakes or errors
ExampleSkyler complained to the telephone company about her erroneous bill.

4. secure [si-KYOOR] (v.) – to obtain something by using effort
Example: After submitting all the necessary documents, Jess was finally able to secure a loan.

5. in-house [in-hous] (adv.) – within the company or organization
ExampleThe insurance company processed applications in-house instead of hiring an outside company to do it for them.


Read the text below.
A jury awarded $18.6 million to a woman from Oregon for winning a lawsuit against Equifax, a consumer credit bureau [BYOOR-oh].

In 2009, a bank denied Julie Miller’s loan because of her Equifax credit report. Miller got a copy of the said report and found that it contained false information including an incorrect Social Security number, a false birthday, and false derogatory accounts. In 2010, Miller’s loan application was denied again by another bank due to the same Equifax report.

Miller tried for two years to have the mistakes corrected. Despite her repeated requests, Equifax always told her that it needed more information before it could process her complaint.

After some time, Equifax representatives told Miller that her data got mixed up with another person's records. After eight times of asking Equifax to fix its mistakes, Miller finally filed a lawsuit in October 2011.

According to Miller's lawyer Justin Baxter, Equifax's mistake and failure to correct it affected his client adversely. Due to the erroneous report, Miller was unable to secure a loan and was thus unable to help her disabled brother.

Moreover, the data mix-up involved privacy issues, said Baxter. That Miller's data was interchanged with another person's meant Miller's own personal information was being sent to others as well.

Miller also learned that Equifax did not even address the problem in-house, as the company would send complaints it received to subcontractors overseas.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think the court awarded as much as $18.6 million to Julie Miller?
·         What would you feel if you were in Julie Miller’s shoes, having denied requests over and over?

Discussion B

·         Which is more effective: making a complaint through e-mail or in person? Why do you say so?
·         Should a person be polite or aggressive when making a complaint? Please explain your answer.


September 16, 2013