The FTC says Mount Diablo Lending and its owner responded to negative reviews by posting consumer’s credit history, debt-to-income ratio and other personal information.

A California mortgage broker was slapped with a $120,000 fine this week for responding to negative Yelp reviews by revealing personal information about consumers.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday charged Ramon Walker and his company Mortgage Solutions FCS, Inc. — which does business as Mount Diablo Lending — for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other laws on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission.

“Companies that use credit reports and scores have a legal obligation to keep that information confidential,” Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said in a statement. “They should not disclose that information to third parties without a legitimate reason to do so, and they certainly should not post that information on the internet to embarrass or punish consumers, as happened here.”

Walker reportedly responded to consumers who posted negative reviews of his company on Yelp by revealing things like their personal credit history, debt-to-income ratio, taxes, health, sources of income, family relationships, and other personal information, including in several cases, both the consumer’s first and last name.

“Your credit report shows four late payments from the Capital One account, one late from Comenity Bank, which is Pier 1, another late from Credit First Bank, three late payments from an account named SanMateo,” Walker reportedly wrote in one comment. “Not to mention the mortgage late. All of these late payments are having an enormous negative impact on your credit score.”

A screengrab of the company’s Yelp page.

The FTC further alleged that Walker and his company violated the FTC Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, by failing to implement by September 2017 and then subsequently test an information security program.

As part of the settlement, Walker and the company will pay a $120,000 fine and the company is barred from misrepresenting its privacy and data security practices, as well as misusing credit reports and improperly disclosing personal information to third parties.

Email Patrick Kearns

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