Los Angeles Consumers File Class Action Lawsuit Against Used-Car Dealer Drive Time For Allegedly Leaking Their Private Financial Information to Unauthorized Third Parties

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Several Los Angeles-area consumers have filed a class action lawsuit against used-car dealer Drive Time, formerly known as Ugly Ducking, for allegedly leaking their credit applications, which included their social security numbers and other private information, to unauthorized outside parties. Cheryl Long, an Individual, on behalf of herself and all others similarly aggrieved by defendants’ conduct as alleged herein v. Drive Time, a California Business Entity; Ugly Ducking, a California Business Entity, et al., Case. No. BC 352 692.

Many Los Angeles-area consumers shopping at Drive Time (formerly known as Ugly Ducking) for used cars usually have filled out credit applications containing all of their confidential financial information, including name, social security number, employment information and home address. These consumers assumed that Drive Time would keep these credit applications under lock and key and not leak them to anyone outside of Drive Time.

In connection with an investigation of a different case involving alleged misconduct by auto insurance brokers, the La Crescenta, California firm of Brennan, Wiener & Associates (“BWA”) alleges that Drive Time had, for some years, leaked these confidential credit applications in large numbers to insurance brokers for the purpose of placing auto insurance. The affected consumers had no idea that this was happening.

“My clients are understandably outraged,” commented Robert F. Brennan, lead counsel for the plaintiff class. So far, Brennan has collected several files from the insurance brokers with Drive Time credit applications in them. “With the Choicepoint scandal and so many other related instances, businesses which get a consumer’s social security number must learn to keep it safe and secure, under lock and key and accessible only to authorized personnel. They can’t be spreading around this information, even if it does make money for them directly or indirectly. The opportunity for identity theft and for other misuses of a consumer’s personal information is just too great in this day and age.”

The class members have filed a class action in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Cheryl Long, an Individual, on behalf of herself and all others similarly aggrieved by defendants’ conduct as alleged herein v. Drive Time, a California Business Entity; Ugly Ducking, a California Business Entity, et al., Case. No. BC 352 692.

Brennan offers some tips on making sure that your private financial information does not get spread about by corporations or stores to which you provide it. “First, there’s nothing wrong with asking exactly how the information will be protected before you provide them with the information. At a minimum, such information should be kept under lock and key and should be accessible only to key personnel and not to any low-wage temporary worker who happens to be passing through. Consumers are entitled to have corporations or retail companies agree in writing to keep confidential information private and secure.

“Since this situation usually comes up in connection with loan applications, I frequently advise my clients to simply go to their own banks and get pre-approved loans before shopping for major items. That way, there’s no reason to even worry about the whole dealership financing shell game. There are so many hidden charges and fees in many dealer financing deals that it’s almost always best just to go through your own bank. Then there’s also the greater chance that your information will be kept safe and secure.”

Brennan also points out that any consumer’s personal data is still subject to theft, even from otherwise secure locations. “There’s simply no foolproof way to entirely protect your personal information. 21st-century consumers must learn about handling consumer credit disputes as part of their basic financial information. It’s no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.”

Brennan’s website, http://www.socalcreditdamage.com, gives consumers the tools for handing identity theft and false credit reporting situations.

About Robert F. Brennan: Robert F. Brennan, Esq. and his firm, Brennan, Wiener & Associates, 3150 Montrose Ave., La Crescenta, Ca., handle identity theft and wrongful credit report damage cases for residents of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Ventura Counties. Brennan, Wiener & Associates have a track record of successfully cleaning up credit reports and also of obtaining compensation for their clients. Mr. Brennan is well known for taking this fairly technical area of the law and breaking it down into its simplicity so that anyone can themselves, without the assistance of an attorney, clean up derogatory marks on their credit reports which do not belong there. When consumers find themselves unable to clean up their credit reports on their own, that’s where Brennan, Wiener & Associates steps in, to ensure that the wrongful derogatory marks get cleaned up and to ensure that the consumers so affected receive adequate compensation.


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