The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER
This is an action brought for violation of the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681. The defendants have filed motions to dismiss on the grounds that the Act is not applicable to the transaction in question. Because both parties have filed evidentiary material supporting or opposing the motions, we will threat them as motions for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.
In 1973, defendant Boron sold a property in suburban Pittsburgh to Mr. and Mrs. Yarick, who were represented by an attorney, Howard A. Minsky. Sometime in 1974, the manager of real estate for Boron who had supervised the sale of the property to the Yaricks was given a letter addressed to the Office of the President of Boron Oil Company. The letter was from plaintiff on a letterhead designating him as "Attorney-at-Law" and recited that he represented the Yaricks and threatened Boron with suit for damages and punitive damages arising out of alleged deceit in the real estate transaction. The letter suggested negotiating a settlement with the writer.
The Boron Real Estate Manager knew that other counsel had represented the Yaricks in the sale. He could find no listing for the plaintiff under the heading "Attorney-at-Law" in the Pittsburgh Telephone Directory and requested the Boron Regional Credit Manager to find who the writer was. The Credit Manager ordered a credit report from defendant Retailers Commercial Credit Agency in Pittsburgh.
The Credit Agency sent a report entitled "Special Credit Report-Individual", which disclosed the plaintiff's home address, that he lived there with his wife Diane, that he was born in 1928, number of dependents, unknown, that he was an attorney employed by United Steel Company, as well as having his own law office; that he was not known to the retail credit agencies files, that there were no suits or judgments docketed against him in Allegheny County, and that there were no criminal records. The report cited that plaintiff declined all information on interviewing.
In any event the statute requires that the information contained in the report be obtained by interviews. There is nothing in the report showing the product of any interview. If the person allegedly interviewed provided no information then the report could contain no information. Her affidavit is silent as to whether she provided information. The affidavit of Mr. Morris of Retail Credit lists the sources of his information and it does not contain any interviews.
We have come to the conclusion that the report which forms the basis of this law suit is by definition not an "investigative consumer report" because of the absence of the necessary type of information. Any "investigative consumer report" must by definition by a "consumer report" under the statute. A "consumer report" is defined in Section 1681a(d) of the Act:
(d) The term 'consumer report' means any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer's credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer's eligibility for (1) credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, or (2) employment purposes, or (3) other purposes authorized under section 1681b of this title . . .
Whether a report by a consumer reporting agency on a consumer is a "consumer report" under the Act depends, therefore, on the contents of the report and the purpose of the report.
Congress in enacting this statute incorporated its findings and statement of purpose in Section 1681 of the Act. The entire thrust of the Act is addressed to the needs of commerce for "consumer credit, personnel, insurance, and other information," and the requirement of enforcing fair credit reporting methods in connection therewith. The very purpose of the present inquiry and the information contained in the report in question does not relate to consumer credit as outlined in the statement of purpose of the statute. The report indicates that plaintiff is an attorney who maintains a private law office, but he is employed by the United States Steel Company. It recites his residence, marital status, age and absence of any civil or criminal court records concerning him. Thus the report was not sought for credit purposes and gives no credit information, but rather was sought to establish the identity of the person writing the letter in the capacity of an attorney-at-law, representing parties who threatened a lawsuit against Boron Oil Company. Because the recipient of the letter, Boron Oil Company, had known another attorney as representing the claimants and could not find the writer of the letter listed as an attorney under the listings in the Pittsburgh Telephone Directory, it instituted an inquiry to learn of his identity. The report does not relate to the extension of credit or other benefits to the plaintiff as a consumer. It is thus not a "consumer report" under the statute.
The legislative history illustrates the congressional purpose:
Congresswoman Leonore Sullivan remarks on the report of the Senate-House Conference Committee, October 13, ...