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Riddle v. Portfolio Recovery Associated, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

March 26, 2014

RICHARD RIDDLE, plaintiff,
v.
PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATED, INC. and PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES, LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In 2004, Defendant Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC purchased two accounts from a utility service provider based on the representation that they were valid, due and owing by Plaintiff Richard Riddle. Both accounts were in Plaintiff's name, date of birth and social security. Plaintiff alleges those accounts are not his.

Between July 2010 and March 2011, Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC accessed Plaintiff's credit report on eight occasions in order to update Plaintiff's account information. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants did not have a permissible purpose to access his report, and thus violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681o and 1881. Additionally, Plaintiff contends that Defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by accessing his credit report after receiving a letter disputing that he owed a debt to them. Finally, for each of the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his right to privacy.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment against Defendant Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (Doc. #30) and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on all claims against them (Doc. #32). Both motions have been fully briefed (Docs. #43, 45, 51, 52), and are thus ripe for review.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC ("PRA, LLC") is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc. ("PRA, Inc."). PRA, LLC purchases and manages portfolios of defaulted and bankrupt consumer receivables; in other words, PRA, LLC is a debt collector. On February 10, 2004, PRA, LLC purchased two defaulted accounts from Aquila, Inc., a utility service provider. Aquila represented that the two accounts were valid, due and owing by Richard Riddle. Aquila also provided identification information, such as Riddle's date of birth and social security number, to corroborate its representation that the accounts were Riddle's. Both accounts were for loans extended in 1999, with the last payment received in 2000. Both accounts were charged off later in 2000.

PRA, LLC's electronic records indicate that it tried to contact Riddle on three occasions in 2004. On two occasions, PRA, LLC attempted to contact Riddle via mail using an address provided by Aquila at the time the accounts were purchased. And on one occasion, PRA, LLC attempted to call Riddle at a number proved by Aquila. However, all of these attempts failed because the contact information provided by Aquila was either outdated or incorrect. On September 23, 2004, both accounts were placed in "out of statute" status, and PRA, LLC made no further attempts to contact Riddle.

PRA, LLC did, however, continue to receive information about each account from the credit reporting agency, Trans Union, LLC. Whenever Trans Union received updated account information about Riddle, including a change of address or telephone number, or an increase in credit limits, Trans Union would automatically forward that information to PRA, LLC. Plaintiff asserts that eight inquiries were made between July 24, 2010 and March 1, 2011. However, PRA, LLC's records indicate that it only received credit information from Trans Union on four occasions: July 24, 2010, September 27, 2010, December 2010, and March 1, 2011.

All of the inquiries were listed on Riddle's consumer report as "account review inquiries." PRA, LLC characterizes "account review inquiries" as "soft pulls" or "soft inquires." This type of inquiry, PRA, LLC claims, is not visible to any creditor or third party, and does not adversely impact the consumer's credit score. Rather, the inquiries are only listed on a consumer report requested by the consumer.

Sometime in early 2011, Riddle reviewed his Trans Union credit report and noticed multiple account reviews conducted by PRA, LLC. Riddle did not recognize PRA, LLC as a creditor, so he sent the company a letter requesting an explanation of the inquiries and disputing the accounts. PRA, LLC received the letter on February 24, 2011, and entered Riddle's dispute into its electronic records on March 1, 2011. On that same day, PRA, LLC claims it purged Riddle's accounts and ceased all activity on the accounts. However, at some time on March 1, 2011, a final account inquiry was made on Riddle's Trans Union report.

Based on the foregoing, Riddle filed suit in Kenton County District Court against Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc. and Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc. The Complaint alleged that Defendants violated Plaintiff's rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Defendants subsequently removed the action to this Court on March 16, 2012 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Plaintiff thereafter amended his Complaint, adding claims for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and his right to privacy.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of ...


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