In Kozlowski v. Bank of America, 2018 WL 2096381 (E.D.Cal.), 4 (E.D.Cal., 2018), the District Court found that the Plaintiff failed to allege an FCRA claim against a furnished.
Plaintiff fails, however, to adequately allege the second and third elements of a claim under § 1681s-2(b). Plaintiff does not allege in her complaint that a consumer reporting agency notified the furnisher—here, BANA—of a dispute, which is required to trigger BANA’s duty to investigate. See Gorman, 584 F.3d at 1154. Even if BANA’s duty to investigate had been triggered, plaintiff’s allegations that BANA failed to conduct an investigation and timely respond to plaintiff are contradicted by the complaint itself. The correspondence attached to the complaint reveals that plaintiff sent three debt verification requests to BANA on March 14, April 14, and July 12, 2017, and that BANA responded to the requests on April 4, April 27, May 9, June 16, August 16, and August 21, 2017, wherein BANA either requested additional information from plaintiff to be able to validate her debt, or substantively responded to plaintiff’s notice of dispute. (Compl. at 5 & Exs. A, B.) In particular, BANA’s correspondence with plaintiff on May 9, 2017 states that, following an investigation, BANA determined that plaintiff’s account “is reporting correctly” and that it was “unable to remove the account from your credit file.” (Compl. at Ex. B.) BANA’s correspondence with plaintiff on June 16, 2017 summarized its investigation and concluded that “the above-referenced account is valid, due and payable,” and that “there has been no bank error in the handling of your account.” (Id.) The June 16, 2017 letter further enclosed copies of plaintiff’s original application and monthly billing statements. (Id.) Because plaintiff does not allege that a consumer reporting agency notified BANA of a dispute, and because plaintiff has otherwise failed to allege facts identifying any deficiency in the manner in which BANA responded to her notices of dispute, plaintiff fails to state a claim against BANA under § 1681s-2(b).
As to debt collection attorneys, the District Court stated that no FDCPA claim would lie because they properly validated the debt.
In opposition to the motion to dismiss this cause of action, plaintiff alleges that TMLG’s responses were legally deficient because “[v]alidation requires presentment of the account and general ledger statement signed and dated by the party responsible for maintaining the account.” (Doc. No. 31 at 10.) Plaintiff’s argument in this regard, however, contradicts clear Ninth Circuit precedent that “[v]erification of a debt involves nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed.” Clark v. Capital Credit & Collection Servs., Inc., 460 F.3d 1162, 1173–74 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Chaudhry v. Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394, 406 (4th Cir. 1999)). In Clark, the Ninth Circuit found that defendants satisfied their verification duty under § 1692g by obtaining information about the nature and balance of the outstanding bill from the creditor and sending plaintiffs a copy of the itemized statement. Id. at 1174. The Ninth Circuit held that defendants were entitled to rely on their client’s statements to verify the debt, and did not have a duty to independently investigate the amount of the debt. Id.
Here, plaintiff’s complaint and the exhibits attached thereto show that in response to plaintiff’s notices of dispute, TMLG mailed plaintiff a copy of the itemized monthly billing statement that demonstrated the amount of the outstanding bill and showed that the debt was in plaintiff’s name. This is all that is required to verify a debt under § 1692g. See Clark, 460 F.3d at 1174. Plaintiff provides no other factual allegations to suggest that the Moore defendants’ debt collection activities were unfair or unconscionable. The court will therefore dismiss plaintiff’s third cause of action under the FDCPA, § 1692f et seq.