Allstate sued for conducting credit check without consent
A Georgia woman is accusing Allstate Insurance Co. of conducting a credit check on her son without consent in a lawsuit against the insurer in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
"Everyone has been able to do this for years."
In the lawsuit, which seeks nationwide class action status, Jeanne Cochran says Allstate denied her a home insurance policy based on the poor credit rating of her son, who was living with her at the time. Allstate never sought permission to seek the son's credit report.
The lawsuit is asking for up to $1,000 for every unauthorized credit check run by Allstate while processing insurance applications.
According to Mike Trevino, a spokesperson for Allstate, for years the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act has allowed insurers to obtain the credit reports of all members of the same household when one member applies for insurance. Allstate uses credit information to assess the risks and decide whether to issue an insurance policy in Georgia. Because both auto and home insurance policies cover all members of the same household, Allstate says it needs to know about all of the risks involved. Allstate also says that a person's credit can be used to predict the likelihood he or she will file an insurance claim.
"Underwriting insurance is a permissible purpose for accessing a credit report without consent," says Trevino. "Everyone has been able to do this for years."
According to Trevino, Allstate never obtains more than two credit reports when making an insurance decision for a household, although the Fair Credit Reporting Act would theoretically permit it to obtain more.
The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the enforcement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, has not taken an official position on obtaining nonapplicant credit reports for insurance underwriting without consent.