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Ingram v. Experian Info. Sols., Inc., 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 25991 (3d Cir. October 2, 2023) (Restrepo, C.J.)

Appellant Stefan Ingram was simply trying to clear his credit report of an account that was falsely created in his name. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) provides consumers two ways to accomplish this; the first is by filing a “direct” dispute with the entity that furnished the consumer reporting agency with the disputed information, referred to as “the furnisher.” The second is by filing an “indirect” dispute with the consumer reporting agency, which will then pass it to the furnisher for further investigation. Ingram pursued his claim through both avenues and, when these measures were unsuccessful, through the courts. On summary judgment, the District Court rejected Ingram’s claim that his indirect dispute was inadequately investigated by the furnisher in this case, after concluding that it had no duty to investigate because Ingram did not provide enough documentation to inform a “bona fide,” nonfrivolous dispute.

This appeal asks whether we may imply into the FCRA an exception allowing a furnisher discretion to refuse to investigate an indirect dispute it deems frivolous or irrelevant, as the District Court did. We hold today that such an exception is unsupported by the plain text of the statute; furnishers are permitted to find that a direct dispute submitted by a consumer is frivolous, and consumer reporting agencies may find that an indirect dispute submitted by a consumer is frivolous, but the FCRA provides no such discretion to furnishers that receive an indirect dispute secondhand from a consumer reporting agency. We will accordingly reverse the disposal of Ingram’s action and remand for evaluation of whether Waypoint’s investigation into Ingram’s indirect dispute was reasonable.