Consumer Sues Choicepoint For Saying She Was In An Accident She Wasn't In

Angie Duckworth is suing Choicepoint and State Farm for $75,000+ for reporting her as being in an accident she wasn’t in, and messing up her credit report.

According to the suit, Angie Duckworth’s father let an acquaintance, Angie Jones, borrow a car in 2002. Ms. Duckworth reported the accident to State Farm, who erroneously reported her as being the driver. (Apparently they can’t understand how two women could have the same first name but different last names).

After discovering the wrong information in 2004, the plaintiff asked State Farm to fix the info and they agreed to. In 2006, the wrong information was still on her report, which could harm her ability to get insurance in the future. At one point, contends the lawsuit. “Choicepoint told Plaintiff in order to dispute the wreck she would need to contact State Farm directly. Choicepoint falsely hid from Plaintiff that she should dispute directly in writing with Choicepoint.”

Choicepoint is one of the largest consumer reporting agencies in America, and it seems to be beholden to none of the citizen’s whose data it manages/mangles.

If you manage to find that Choicepoint has minsinformation in its records on you, you can lobby to have it fixed by writing them a letter.

ChoicePoint Insurance Consumer Center
P.O. Box 105108
Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5108
1-888-497-0011 (toll free); Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM EST
http://www.consumerdisclosure.com

Clashing With Choicepoint – One Consumer’s Challenge [Alabama Consumer Law Blog]
(Photo: I Can Has Cheeseburger?)

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  1. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Countdown to victim-blaming in three… two… SHE SHOULDN’TA LET ANYONE BORROW HER CAR!!

    This is the kind of bad customer service I don’t really get. They have absolutely nothing to gain from letting her credit report stay bad — so why go to any trouble at all to avoid fixing it?

  2. B says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: She didn’t though. Her dad let somebody borrow his car.

  3. SBR249 says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: Well the article said it was the plaintiff’s father who let his acquaintance borrow the car which might not have even belonged to the plaintiff in the first place. In addition, the plaintiff might not even know the acquaintance. It could all come down to the fact that they both have the same first name and are connected to the father…

  4. tadowguy says:

    Actually the story says “borrow a car” not “borrow her car”, so could it be one of her father’s vehicles and perhaps at the time they were on the same policy?

  5. banned says:

    Exactly how does an accident screw up her ability to get a credit card or loans???

  6. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @B: @SBR249: I know, I just thought “she shouldn’ta let her dad let anybody borrow a car that might or might not have been hers” was too long.

    Then again, I’m waiting on someone to come up with exactly that argument.

  7. enm4r says:

    How exactly do we go about finding out whether or not they have misrepresented data on us?

    I have no problem with reporting agencies, to a certain extent, they’re necessary. But the fact that they’re taking as 100% perfect by those who use their services really is unfortunate for consumers. It should not take months/years/lawsuits/etc to fix errors on credit reports and I would assume with Choicepoint.

    The problem is that they have no incentive to fix anything, because they are hurt in no way whatsoever if their information is wrong.

  8. asherchang says:

    @rocnrule: that’s what I’m wondering too.

  9. balthisar says:

    @asherchang: Yup — another one here wondering just how the heck an accident gets onto a credit report.

  10. B says:

    Well, if you crash a car and report it to the insurance agency, it’ll make your rates go up. Perhaps State Farm jacked up her rates, she refused to pay, and State Farm submitted it to a collection agency.

  11. tcp100 says:

    @asherchang: Your consumer credit report is not the only consumer file kept on you. You also have a CLUE report, kept by Choicepoint, which details your insurance claim history.

    Your CLUE report is checked when you apply for an apartment (via the SafeRent programs and similar services), sometimes when you apply for an auto loan, and every time you apply for any kind of insurance. The lawsuit refers to this as a “credit report” only because it is classified as such under the FCRA.

    This should not affect applying for credit cards. I’m not sure where that comes from; it’s incorrect. The blog or the lawsuit mention nothing about credit cards.

  12. tcp100 says:

    @enm4r: It should not take months/years/lawsuits/etc to fix errors on credit reports and I would assume with Choicepoint.


    It doesn’t. The FCRA requires that such errors be fixed within 60 days if, after being researched, they’re shown to be erroneous. The problem here is that State Farm had the plaintiff recorded as responsible for the accident from the beginning. Choicepoint really had no way of knowing otherwise. If the plaintiff could have produced a police report (doubtful, since she wasn’t involved), such evidence would usually be sufficient to remove a mark from the CLUE report.


    The problem is that they have no incentive to fix anything, because they are hurt in no way whatsoever if their information is wrong.


    This is not true. The FCRA is clear, and the penalties are clear cut for reporting agencies that do not follow the complaint process. The problem here is that A) State Farm clearly dropped the ball in following this through – they have the ultimate power, as Choicepoint’s customer, to resolve this, and B) the plaintiff did not follow the procedure prescribed by the law; all disputes under the FCRA need to be made in writing. When dealing with your credit reports, Always follow up in writing!

    This doesn’t excuse State Farm’s negligence and ChoicePoint’s lack of followup and resolution of the investigation, which is a clear violation of the FCRA. I’m not a lawyer, but as the FCRA reads and taking the lawsuit at face value, she probably has a case.

  13. tcp100 says:

    By the way, just like you’re entitled to a free credit report every year under the FACT act, you’re also entitled to a copy of your ChoicePoint/CLUE report. Here’s how to get it:

    [www.choicepoint.com]

    Ben, might want to put this in the story. If you read the comments, that is.

  14. chimmike says:

    This is the thing, did they specifically list her as being the driver, or did it simply mention she had a claim filed on her policy?

    Regardless of who is driving, if she filed a claim under her policy, that will show up on a clue report. That is an additional risk, even though she wasn’t driving, that means she lets other people drive her vehicle, and thereby takes on the responsibility of whatever damage they may cause.

    If they specifically listed HER as the driver, it does minimal positive help to change that info. The claim is still on her history.

  15. enm4r says:

    @tcp100: This is not the thread for specifics, but it’s nice to have FCRA writing in hand, but in practice this is not enforced. It is not always possible to change a report with obviously wrong information in less than 60 days, even when one is doing all the “right” things.

  16. tcp100 says:

    @enm4r: You’re right, and when that happens, the company is in clear violation. The thing is, however, if you read the lawsuit, she did most of her legwork by phone calls, and seemed to trust them when they said it would be fixed. Bad move. Never trust what some phone operator says who’s paid per call. A dated certified dispute letter and the resultant lack of investigation could have saved her some headaches; evidence filed with your state’s AG and the FTC would have gotten Choicepoint’s attention right quick. (I know, I’ve done it… and that’s the problem, so many folks think they have no redress; the problem is they often don’t even try through local government channels thinking they’ll just hit a wall of bureaucracy. Protip: this is what such organizations are there fore.)

    I understand the “we’ve got it taken care of” phone call is what a reasonable person would expect should handle something like this, but you need to play CYA with these guys, and always leave a paper trail. That, and the FCRA generally does require you to dispute in writing.

  17. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    On a side note..


    Your accident history is supposed to “disappear” from your DMV records after 3 years. But if there’s a separate 3rd party agency (CLUE/Choicepoint) keeping track of this information, people should wonder why their rates haven’t gone down after 4 years of accident-free driving.

  18. cryrevolution says:

    It wasn’t her policy though. If the car belonged to her father, the father was the named policyholder. She was most likely a listed driver and when the claim was reported, when they reported who the driver was, the CSR probably just mistakened Angie for Angie. I work in Claims and I see this kind of mistake often. If she wasn’t specifically involved, the claim would be under the father’s credit, not hers, since she is just a listed driver.

  19. cryrevolution says:

    The accident will go under the CORRECT Angie’s credit. And the policy under the named policyholder, the father.

  20. jrdnjstn78 says:

    I had almost the same thing happen to me in 2005 and I have State farm insurance also.

    Me, my cousin and my 2 children were traveling from texas to Michigan. i called my insurance before to make sure it was ok to let my cousin drive my vehicle even though she is not on the policy. They said yes and since it’s my vehicle the policy will follow me where I go.

    Time for my cousin to drive and what do you know she falls asleep driving at 75mph. Anyways we all went to the hospital, my kids had to be airlifted to a hospital an hour away from me.

    Well this amounted to a huge amount of bills (almost 100,000) just for me and my kids. What a hassle I had with State Farm!

    Anyways my rates did not go up, actually they have gone done by a couple dollars. Yes I still do have State Farm. They are the cheapest for me with all the aditional coverage I have. I do know that State farm will go after the person (my cousin) who caused the accident to recover money that they lost.

    I have never checked to see who they have listed as the driver but I’m not planning on getting different insurance anyways. The lady in the story can get a police report if it is her vehicle so she can prove it wasn’t her driving or her dad can get it.

    I got a copy of the police report for my accident because my cousin had tried to make a claim against me with my insurance so she could file a claim. The insurance laughed at her because in the police report she admitted to them that she fell asleep.

  21. SprayBottle says:

    I would never be comfortable sending postal mail to the credit agency. I’m sure you have to include your social security number and that is so unsafe to send in the mail. They need to get a better system. “Choicepoint, we HELP in getting your credit stolen!”

  22. Jesse in Japan says:

    To be fair, Angie is a pretty uncommon name.