The U.S. Supreme Court, in denying a cert petition, declined to resolve a conflict among the circuits whether the federal government can be sued for alleged violations of the FCRA. The 4th Circuit affirmed a lower court decision, which ruled against the plaintiff/petitioner, Anthony Robinson. The 4th Circuit held that the government could not be sued because “[I]t is settled law that a waiver of sovereign immunity must be unambiguous and unequivocal.” The 4th and 9th Circuits deny FCRA actions against the federal government, but the 7th Circuit allows such suits.
The petitioner, Anthony Robinson, found out that his signature had been forged on student loan applications, and that the U.S. Department of Education was reporting fraudulent student loan accounts to the credit bureaus. Robinson said he was a victim of identity theft but, he alleges, the Education Department “refused to remove the fraudulent accounts from [his] credit reports” in violation of the FCRA.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case. Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh filed a dissent noting the split among the circuits and how student loan borrowers in three states can sue the Department, but borrowers in 14 states cannot.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More