- A California federal jury recently found that a consumer reporting agency (CRA) violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) with respect to consumer reports containing OFAC-related information. The jury found that the CRA willfully failed to (i) follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the OFAC information it reported; (ii) clearly and accurately disclose OFAC information in file disclosures; and (iii) provide class members with the required federal summary of rights under the FCRA. The complaint alleged violations of the FCRA and California’s Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act. With respect to the OFAC search, the plaintiff alleged that his name was searched using a partial “name only” match to determine whether he was on the OFAC list. The jury awarded statutory and punitive damages totaling $60 million – the statutory damages per class member amount to $984.22 and the punitive damages per class member amount to $6,353.08. The case is Ramirez v. Trans Union, U.S. District Court for the N.D. of California, Case No. 12-cv-00632.
- Recently a federal magistrate judge granted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) petition to enforce a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) against a public record vendor that challenged the CFPB’s authority to issue the CID. Although premature as a defense at this stage, the public record vendor argued that it is not subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) because it is not a consumer reporting agency. The public record vendor also argued that the CFPB lacks authority to issue the CID because it “merely operates an internet website that allows users to conduct searches for public records using search criteria selected by the customer and the search results simply contain public record information for all public records that match the customer’s search terms.” (Memorandum Opinion and Order at 20) Therefore, no “assembly or evaluating” of information under the FCRA. The CID was issued earlier this year as part of an investigation to determine whether there are unlawful acts and practices in connection with the provision or use of public records information in violation of the FCRA. The case is Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. The Source for Public Data, LP, U.S. District Court for the N.D. of Texas, No. 3:17-mc-16-G-BN.
- In May the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) Verification and Document Liaison Committee met with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Verification Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations Division, and the U.S. Department of Justice Immigrant and Employee Rights Section to respond to questions, provide updates, and address questions from previous meetings. This month USCIS published the Questions and Answers (Q&A) on its website and you can find them by clicking here. One interesting Q&A relates to the new Form I-9 which will be published in July (as in next month) to reflect changes related to the new entrepreneur parole rule. The new Form I-9 will become mandatory on September 17, 2017, replacing the current version. The Q&A also covers the new M-274 Handbook for Employers, Guidance on Automatic EAD Extensions, E-Verify and other topics of interest to those who complete the Form I-9 on behalf of their organization.
- The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the Administration’s’ travel ban, ruling that the President exceeded his authority delegated to him by Congress and that the executive order runs afoul of the Immigration and Nationality Act that prohibits nationality-based discrimination. This means that both the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals have blocked the Administration’s travel ban which would restrict travel to the United States by individuals from certain countries, suspend refugee admissions, and limit the number of refugees admitted in fiscal year 2017 to 50,000. The case is State of Hawaii v. Donald J. Trump et. al, case number 17-15589.
- International travelers to the United States may experience increased vetting at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad when applying for visas. The Department of State has received emergency approval to collect additional information regarding certain visa applicant’s travel, address and employment history, familial connections, social media platforms and identifiers, and phone numbers and email addresses. The State Department estimates that 0.5% of U.S. visa applicants worldwide—in the range of 65,000 individuals—will present a threat profile requiring this enhanced screening. The Federal Register notice was published in May and approved last month for a six month period. This enhanced screening will not apply to all visa applicants, only those that the State Department determines present a threat profile requiring the additional scrutiny. Furthermore, this is a temporary measure as approval for this enhanced screening expires at the end of November of 2017. Enhanced screening will not apply to citizens who can be admitted under the visa waiver program but international travelers from non-visa waiver countries could be subject to such. This includes citizens in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. From a memo written by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to all U.S. Embassies and Consulates, it appears that at a minimum nationals from Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Somalia and Libya will be targeted for additional screening.