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Stout v. Freescore, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 21, 2014

KEVIN STOUT, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
FREESCORE, LLC, DBA FreeScore.com, Defendant-Appellee

Argued and Submitted: August 26, 2013, Pasadena, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 2:10-cv-04395-R-OP. Manuel L. Real, District Judge, Presiding.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

Aaron D. Radbil (argued), Weisberg & Meyers LLC, Cooper City, Florida; Todd M. Friedman, Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C., Beverly Hills, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Darrel J. Hieber (argued), Jason D. Russell, and Jennifer E. LaGrange, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Los Angeles, California, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before: Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain and Morgan Christen, Circuit Judges, and Brian M. Cogan, District Judge.[*] Opinion by Judge Cogan.

OPINION

Page 681

COGAN, District Judge:

Kevin Stout appeals the dismissal of his putative class action against FreeScore, LLC (" FreeScore" ), under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1679, et seq. (" CROA" ). In dismissing Stout's claim, the district court concluded that FreeScore is not a " credit repair organization" as defined in the CROA. We hold that FreeScore is a " credit repair organization" for purposes of the CROA, because Freescore, through the representations it made on its website and in its television advertising, offered a service, in return for the payment of money, for the implied purpose of providing advice or assistance to consumers with regard to improving the consumer's credit record, credit history, or credit rating. We therefore reverse the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings.

I

FreeScore is an online " provider of credit scores, reports and consumer credit information." Its website, FreeScore.com, reads, in part:

Are you in a financial hole? Want to keep from falling into one?
See your Credit Report & FREE Credit Scores online today and start your climb to financial freedom.
A bruised Credit Report and battered Credit Scores can harm you more than you think. They can wind up costing you a loan, thousands more in undeserved high interest rates or even a job!
Now more than ever, you need to ensure your Credit Report is clean. Lending standards are extremely strict. Poor Credit Scores and a damaged Credit Report could put your dreams of home ownership, a new car or even a new career on hold today -- and haunt you for years to come.

Page 682

You can't afford to bury your head in the dirt when it comes to your credit any longer.
* * *
During your FreeScore FREE Trial, get unlimited online access to your 3-in-1 Triple Bureau Credit Report and Free Credit Scores to see what lenders see!
Get your complete credit picture with a 3-in-1 Credit Report:
o See your Free Credit Report featuring all 3 major credit-reporting bureaus -- TransUnion, Equifax and Experian -- merged into one easy-to-read Credit Report.
o View your Credit Reports organized side-by-side for quick comparison.
o Spot damaging inaccuracies on your Free Credit Report at a glance so you can quickly address incorrect information dragging down your Credit Scores.
o Get your Scores to negotiate your best mortgage, auto and loan interest rates.
o BONUS: Receive newly updated Credit Scores and Report every 30 days!
Plus, easily manage and secure your credit with FreeScore's Triple Bureau Credit Monitoring.
o We keep an eye on your Credit Reports at all three bureaus 24/7 so you don't have to.
o Instant email alerts notify you when critical changes appear on your Credit Report so you ...

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