Intersection of Fact and Law in Credit Reporting: FCRA Obligations and State Law Impacts on Credit Reporting

In Gross v. CitiMortgage Inc., Marshall Gross challenged CitiMortgage’s reporting of a junior mortgage debt on his credit report following the foreclosure of his home. Under Arizona’s Anti-Deficiency Statute, Gross’s liability for the junior mortgage was eliminated once the foreclosure sale failed to cover the debt. Despite this, CitiMortgage reported the debt as active, accruing interest, and past due. Gross filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) due to CitiMortgage’s failure to reasonably investigate his dispute and for providing inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies. The district court ruled in favor of CitiMortgage, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed this decision.

Key Points:

  • Inaccurate Reporting: The Ninth Circuit found that CitiMortgage’s reporting of the debt as active and accruing was factually incorrect, as the debt had been legally abolished under Arizona law.
  • FCRA Obligations: The court emphasized the importance of accurate reporting under the FCRA and the obligation of furnishers to conduct reasonable investigations upon receiving disputes from consumers.
  • Impact of State Law: The case highlighted the interaction between state laws (such as Arizona’s Anti-Deficiency Statute) and federal credit reporting requirements, demonstrating how state laws can influence the accuracy of credit reporting.
  • Investigation Reasonableness: The appellate court determined that the reasonableness of CitiMortgage’s investigation was a matter for the jury to decide, not suitable for summary judgment.


The Gross v. CitiMortgage Inc. decision underscores the significance of furnishers’ responsibilities under the FCRA to ensure accurate credit reporting and conduct thorough investigations of consumer disputes. It also illustrates the influence of state laws on credit reporting practices and the potential legal consequences for furnishers who fail to comply with their obligations.

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