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MERS Accused Of Secretly Selling Consumer Info
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Case Information
Case Title

Sciortino v. Merscorp Holding, Inc.

Georgia Northern
Nature of Suit

480(Consumer Credit)
Case Number


Judge Amy Totenberg
Date Filed

July 12, 2012

Class Action
Privacy & Consumer Protection
Real Estate


Equifax Inc.

Share us on: Twitter Facebook LinkedIn By Lana Birbrair
Law360, New York (July 16, 2012, 8:39 PM ET) -- A putative class of consumers hit a Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. unit with a suit Friday in Georgia alleging the company, which creates consumer reports and maintains files on 63 million people, secretly collects and sells confidential information on residential mortgage applicants.

The putative class action alleges that the information collected by Merscorp Holdings Inc. is included in the consumer reports it sells, which contain confidential identifying information such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

The suit alleges that Merscorp uploads mortgage application information to the Merscorp database when mortgages are applied for with a member of national fraud prevention database Fraud Alert, regardless of whether the applications are approved and without informing consumers.

The putative class, led by consumer Ronald Sciortino on behalf of more than 1,000 individuals, accuses Merscorp of refusing to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act by then selling that secretly recorded information without hiding an applicant's Social Security number, date of birth, home address, occupation and other identifying information.

“Unlike Equifax, TranUnion [sic] and Experian, MERS does not have a policy in place to prevent the disclose of consumers reports of high-profile individuals; indeed, very few people outside the mortgage industry even know of the existence of the secret database, thereby making it ripe for exploitation for nefarious and other illegal reasons such as identity theft,” the suit said.

For a fee, any person or company can access all the information in the Fraud Alert database on any consumer, according to the complaint. As a matter of company policy, however, Merscorp will not disclose the contents of a person's file to the consumer in question, nor will it disclose to the consumer the names of anyone who has requested his or her file, the suit says.

The suit alleges violations of the FCRA and seeks class certification and actual, statutory and punitive damages, plus attorneys' fees and costs. The suit also seeks an order forcing Merscorp to produce class members' entire consumer reports, the sources of the information contained in the reports, and the identity of each person that procured a consumer report for employment or any other purposes.

Representatives for the parties were not immediately available to comment Monday.

The plaintiffs are represented by Stephen Minsk of Minsk & Associates LLC.

Counsel information for Merscorp was not immediately available.

The case is Sciortino v. Merscorp Holding Inc., case number 1:12-cv-02446, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

--Editing by Kat Laskowski.
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