The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland recently allowed a pro se plaintiff’s FCRA claim to survive a motion to dismiss. In Carrasco v. M&T Bank, Plaintiff Bryce Carrasco (Plaintiff) opened a new credit card in July 2020 with Defendant M&T Bank (M&T).  Plaintiff alleges that he requested to view account documentation online but was advised that he would receive a hard copy in the mail. No. SAG-21-0532, 2021 WL 1634711, at *1 (D. Md. Apr. 27, 2021).  Plaintiff admitted to receiving the card and a “generic-looking pamphlet” containing what M&T contends was the Credit Agreement.  Plaintiff disputed whether the contract was binding and enforceable against him.  

From September 2020 to December 2020, Plaintiff had temporarily relocated from his address of record with M&T, during which time he contends he did not receive any electronic contact from M&T.  Upon returning to his record address, Plaintiff learned that M&T had sent six letters stating he had a past-due debt on his newly opened account. One of M&T’s letters stated that the credit reporting agencies (CRAs) were informed of his “late payment, missed payment, or other default,” and that the “information may be reflected in [his] credit report.”  Plaintiff contacted M&T to fully pay the past-due debt and then later emailed M&T at the end of the month to inform M&T that he started the credit report dispute process with Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.  He also sent a formal dispute statement directly to M&T describing why the furnished information was misleading. 

Plaintiff alleges that M&T violated FCRA by failing to inform the CRAs that he was disputing the unpaid debt.  M&T argued that Plaintiff’s FCRA claim should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to give M&T proper notice of his specific dispute and that his alleged dispute was not a meritorious dispute that would trigger M&T’s duties under FCRA.  

Given the “parties’ opposing views” as to whether the plaintiff’s dispute was a “bona fide dispute,” the Court found that Plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to survive the motion to dismiss and the factual determinations were for a later stage.