The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), ordered Mortgage Solutions FCS, Inc. (doing business as Mount Diablo Lending) and its owner, Ramon Walker, to pay a $120,000 penalty for disclosing the personal information of its customers in response to complaints posted on Yelp.com to settle violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act, Regulation P, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Safeguarding Customer Information rule, and the Dodd-Frank Act provisions regarding Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP).
Mortgage Solutions is a mortgage broker that collected and maintained nonpublic personal information from applicants and customers. Between approximately June 2015 and August 2016, Walker published responses to complaints posted on Yelp.com, a public website, including information such as customers’ names (first and last) sources of income, debt-to-income ratios, credit histories (e.g., late payments and charge offs), taxes, family relationships and health.
Some of the Yelp.com responses included the following statements:
It can be very tempting to respond to complaints containing false allegations against your employees or institution with information you have in a file, and it can be frustrating that these allegations can appear legitimate on public websites due to your inability to address them head-on in the same manner. However, at no time can you include any personal information in any public response – no matter how false or incendiary the postings may be. How you respond communicates more than the complaints alleged, and the consequences can be severe.
The FTC settlement announcement can be found here.
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