Internet Law

Job hunter who claimed Spokeo published wrong information may sue, 9th Circuit says


An unemployed job hunter who claims data aggregator Spokeo published mistaken information about him may proceed with his lawsuit claiming violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said plaintiff Thomas Robins of Virginia did not have to show economic harm to proceed with his suit, Bay City News and Online Media Daily report. The credit law does not require actual harm for willful violations, the court said in its opinion (PDF). The alleged violations of Robins’ statutory rights are sufficient to satisfy Article III standing requirements, the court said.

Robins said he feared mistakes in his information were harming his job prospects. According to Robins, Spokeo had mistakenly reported that he had a graduate degree and was wealthy. His lawyer, Steven Woodrow, told Bay City News he would seek to have the suit certified as a class action on behalf of tens of thousands and possibly millions of people.

Spokeo aggregates information from several sources such as telephone directories and real estate listings, Bay City News explains. A statement on its website says Spokeo is not a credit reporting agency and it works hard to ensure its data is within established guidelines.

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