Regulations

Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision may have implications for real estate industry

Here’s how a case that has nothing to do with RESPA may impact those subject to RESPA
  • Thomas Robins filed a class-action lawsuit in 2011 in California federal court against Spokeo, a website that aggregates publicly available information about people and assembles it into an online profile, for putting false information about his age, marital status, educational background and professional accomplishment into his profile.
  • In response, Spokeo pointed out that the erroneous information in Robins’ profile was actually favorable and that he suffered no harm.
  • The Supreme Court sent the "concrete harm" question back to the circuit court, but industry experts are concerned because the case could have implications for RESPA-affected industries, allowing plaintiffs to bring lawsuits against real estate and mortgage companies without proving concrete harm.

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A case that -- on its surface -- has nothing to do with RESPA (the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) may impact those subject to RESPA nonetheless. The Supreme Court issued a decision Monday in a case involving consumer privacy law that may ultimately have implications for real estate and mortgage industry companies that are subject to certain federal statutes, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and RESPA. The court’s May 16 decision in Spokeo v. Robins concerns when and how a consumer may sue for privacy violations under the FCRA. Thomas Robins filed a class-action lawsuit in 2011 in California federal court against Spokeo, a website that aggregates publicly available information about people and assembles it into an online profile, for putting false information about his age, marital status, educational background and professional accomplishment into his profile. Robins argued that because Spokeo collects information upon the request of potential empl...