When you apply for an apartment, you fill out the application and the property management company runs a credit report check that includes your "TRW" and the tenant blacklisting service now owned by First Advantage Corporation [http://fadv.com ], called "The U.D. Registry, Inc." Some landlords use a single agency which in turn does the dual check, but the process is the same. Your application can be rejected because you have an eviction on your record. This can be disastrous, due to the higher rent you will be paying just to have a place to live, and the time crunch of not finding a place in time to move. Worse, you may have been just named in an eviction when you didn't even live there, but the manager wanted to be extra nasty and ruin your credit, too.
There are 5 major reporting agencies which may affect you. TRW, which also makes satellites, used to be in the credit reporting business, but no longer. People still use the term TRW to refer generally to credit reporting companies. There are 3 companies that are primarily concerned with money issues, and will report a judgment for money against you only as it affects your future ability to pay: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. There is one company [perhaps more] that stores use to see if your check is good, TeleCheck. The one causing all the problems is The U.D.Registry, Inc.
Contact information is here:
Company Address, Phone & Website
The U.D. Registry, Inc. since 1977, run by
Michael Saltz [son] and Harvey Saltz [father] 10900 Wilshire Blvd. #500, Los Angeles, CA 90024; and PO Box 9140, Van Nuys, CA 91409 for disputed information;
see below for location of CEO
Experian Consumer Assistance: PO Box 2002, Allen TX
Equifax Consumer Assistance: PO Box 740241, Atlanta GA
TransUnion Corp. Consumer Relations:
2 Baldwin Pl., PO Box 1000,
Chester, PA 19022 (800)
TeleCheck Consumer Svc, PO Box
4513, Houston TX 77210
How do they know?
Generally, your landlord does not tell these agencies about the eviction. Instead, U.D. Registry, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion have people who go to the courts to look up cases, and put the information on the computer database, where they sell the information to landlords and others. The three legitimate credit agencies only report money judgments, so that if a money award was filed against you, they would have it, but not otherwise. U.D. Registry writes down the names of every defendant in an eviction case starting 60 days after the eviction action was filed, and keeps the names on their records in order to permanently damage the rental chances of these tenants. It is insidious, to say the least, but there are regulations on how they must function and penalties against them if they don't.
The whole idea of U.D. Registry's report is to help landlords and hurt tenants, even innocent tenants, for as long as possible, and make money in the process. They charge a fee just to check into the name, which you pay with your rental application, whether you are accepted or not. If you want to check your rental credit independently, you have to pay U.D. Registry another fee. Although U.D. Registry claims that it is just reporting "public information" from the courthouse, the obvious insinuation from a name being on the list is, don't rent to this tenant. Legally, it is a libelous by this innuendo, without which it would have no value. The Courts consider the distribution of public information to be a First Amendment right.
It is a blacklist, and not just a neutral credit report, because U.D. Registry does not wait until there is a judgment, to see who was in the right. While the case is still pending, on its way to a tenant victory, U.D. Registry reports the tenants' names in their blacklist, and unless the tenant takes action, keeps those names on their database forever. If the tenant were to look for a place to move prior to trial, their applications could be rejected because of the blacklisting. The tenants are forced to fight the case all the way through, and cannot just move out and let the case get dismissed.
U.D. Registry is a blacklist, and not just a neutral reporting agency, because it makes no inquiry into the issues of the case, whether the people named are properly made parties, or whether the landlord has a case, at all. For example, if the landlord is evicting a man from his apartment, and just to be mean, the manager also names the man's girlfriend [who lives elsewhere] as a defendant, the girlfriend's credit is permanently scarred, and she may not even know about the case. If the landlord files the eviction case completely in the wrong, and then realizes that he is going to lose the case, he dismisses the case, but the U.D. Registry continues to report the tenants as bad tenants who should not be rented to, forever. U.D. Registry makes no inquiry into the issues of the case, nor does it follow up afterwards with the parties, to see if there was a settlement or whatever. It shows no concern for the accuracy of information, on its own, but only to damage tenants' credit. Here are some examples of what is supposed to happen under the law, and what U.D. Registry does, instead:
What the Law Requires of U.D. Registry Civil Code # What U.D. Registry Apparently Does
Cannot report unlawful detainer actions where the defendant was the prevailing party or where the action is resolved by settlement agreement 1786.18(a)(4) Apparently reports all unlawful detainer actions, even where the landlord loses [i.e., "plaintiff takes nothing""] and where the case is dismissed by settlement agreement; will only omit the record if tenant shows "judgment for defendant"; tells tenants who call to inquire that there is no way to take their name off the record
Cannot report unlawful detainer actions unless the lessor was the prevailing party by judgment, default, or express permission to so report it in a settlement agreement. 1785.13(a)(3) Apparently reports all unlawful detainer actions unless the tenant can show "Judgment for Defendant" on an official court document
Must permit tenant to visually inspect credit record, including names, address, and phone of information sources and recipients of that information within last 3 years, as well as the dates, payees, and amounts of any checks upon which any adverse characterization is based [e.g., eviction based on nonpayment by check, accounting error] 1786.10 (a)&(e) Apparently requires information to be requested by mail, extends time before some information is shared with the tenant, and does not permit physical inspections of their records; generally, the information only shows an eviction being filed, without any further information required
Cannot charge any more than $8 to get a copy of the report, and no other charges; the report must be free if the tenant's rental application has been rejected within 60 days 1786.26(a),(b),(d)
1785.15(f) Charges $15 for a tenant to make an inquiry, apparently irrespective of the denials of tenants' applications due to the blacklisting by U.D. Registry, when it should be free
Must investigate any disputed information where the tenant questions the accuracy of the information by any means, provided the tenant gives "sufficient information to investigate the disputed information"; no particular information or writing is required; the dispute cannot be frivolous or irrelevant to the completeness or accuracy 1786(a) & (d) Apparently requires its own form to be used, asking for additional information, including other names used, social security, driver's license, etc, all designed to link that bad credit of the blacklist with other credit agency reports, and upon oral request, only mails their form and waits for it to come in; presumably, without all information it requests, whether related to the eviction or not, it refuses to investigate the error or make any changes
Must report free of charge to the disputing tenant within 30 days who so requests, its conclusions, information sources, and the name and address of all recipients of the adverse information over the last year; if the information cannot be verified, the record must be deleted; landlord contrary claim does not make the dispute frivolous 1786.24(d), (e), (g), (h) & (k) Apparently tells tenants there will be no report following the request to correct the information, and gives no report unless the tenant then pays the $15 [excessive] fee to get new credit report from U.D. Registry; does not supply information about recipients of information or sources; apparently does not timely delete some files where the information was properly disputed but unverified, because the landlord claimed differently
Must remove the eviction from the tenant's record in 7 years 1785.13(a)(7) Apparently tell tenants it will never be removed, although they are aware of the 7-year limitation
Cannot include disputed information about an eviction in a tenant's report until it has been verified after investigation, for any report issued more than 3 months after the eviction was first reported [5 months after filing] 1786.30 Apparently continues to report evictions cases after they should have been removed upon a dispute by the tenant, or not reported at all
Can they get away with that?
U.D. Registry sued the State of California in 1995 for its restrictions under statutes in effect then, and was able to get a published decision that they are entitled to disseminate public information as a free speech right, which cannot be prohibited by the State. However, that is not permission to publish false or misleading information, and new laws enacted in 1998 and 2001 specify not only what must and cannot be done, but impose severe penalties on companies like U.D. Registry which YOU can collect by suing them. From the Legislature's perspective, you're doing everyone a favor; from your perspective, you've got an effective way to collect thousands of dollars in an easily provable case. With enough people suing U.D. Registry, it will not be able to financially survive, and blacklisting will be at an end. This means you.
One lawyer has filed a class action lawsuit against U.D. Registry [Decker v. U.D.Registry -Orange County Superior Court #01CC07725]. He name isXXXXX a UC Berkeley law grad [i.e., the only school higher than Harvard Law], in practice for over 15 years. He can be reached through his website, http://www.lawyers.com/lakeshorelaw or phone,(NNN) NNN-NNNN in Mission Viejo, CA.
Recent contact with The U.D. Registry, Inc. confirms their arrogant and malicious approach. They claim, based upon a misreading of their 1995 case [Cisneros v. UD Registry], that they are free to publish whatever they want. In fact, when a judgment for the tenant was brought to their attention, they said they hadn't noticed that case, but would include it now -the opposite of what the law requires! Looks like they're in for a rough year in the School of Hard Knocks. Attempts to contact First Advantage, the new owner of The UD Registry, Inc., have so far met with no response.
There are two different sets of penalties: one is for running a sloppy operation, and the other is for failing to operate within the requirements described in the preceding section.
A recent law, Code of Civil Procedure 1161.2(e), provides as of 3/30/04, that if the case is "favorably resolved" in the tenant's favor, which includes a dismissal, within 60 days of the filing of the action, the case is SEALED and UD Registry cannot access it. The UD Registry is reportedly planning to challenge that new law.
The U.D. Registry, Inc. is required to (1) maintain reasonable procedures designed to avoid improper reporting [e.g., unlawful detainers where the tenant won or the case was dismissed] and to avoid giving information to the wrong people and (2) follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information, and retain that report for 3 years. From the above, obviously U.D. Registry is not doing either of these. Civil Code Section 1786.50 says you can sue for: "Any actual damages sustained by the consumer as a result of the failure or, except in the case of class actions, ten thousand dollars ($10,000), whichever sum is greater. " The Legislature can't prevent U.D. Registry from keeping a malicious blacklist, but they can authorize each tenant to sue U.D. Registry for a minimum of $10,000. How do you prove this? Look at the above, and see how sloppy their work is. Then think about whether the "maximum possible accuracy" just might require doing more than writing down the names of eviction tenants to put in their blacklist; wouldn't that include contacting the tenants to see if an agreement was reached that included a default judgment, or removing the case from their files immediately after the judgment without a request, or not misleading tenants who call to report the erroneous information? For $10,000, there might be a few lawyers willing to take the case on a contingency, to sue U.D. Registry for $10,000 per tenant.
The second penalty is for failing to comply with the law, as described in the table above, authorized in Civil Code 1786.50. This penalty is IN ADDITION TO the sloppy operation penalty, and authorizes you to sue U.D. Registry for your actual losses, or $10,000, WHICHEVER IS GREATER, in addition to recovering your attorney fees, and punitive damages, if the Court finds that U.D. Registry was grossly or willfully negligent, whatever additional "punitive damages" the judge thinks might keep them from doing this in the future, given their wealthy status. If you lose, U.D. Registry does not get their attorney fees from you.
Therefore, if you are a victim of U.D. Registry, you can earn a quick $10,000 by suing them and their parent company, First Advantage Corporation. Don't forget the libel. Be one of the first, before they go bankrupt and become tenants, themselves!
Your first step is to challenge their report about your case. Rather than use their form, which calls for information that they don't need to resolve your dispute, and is designed only to more maliciously report bad credit against you, use this form, which gives them what they need, and no more, and puts the burden on them to do all the work, in a timely manner. If they fail in any respect to do all the work, and supply all the information, immediately file your lawsuit against them for $10,000 plus attorney fees, or more, for each tenant in a unit [or each Defendant wrongly named] who was adversely affected by their practices.
The Legislature has given you the tools to take action. You have no rights if you don't exercise them.
Take action starting right now. Get the form, print it out, and mail it in. Although telephone notice to UD Registry is sufficient, you will need to prove to the judge when they got your demand. Use certified mail, return receipt requested, and count out the 30 days from when it is first attempted to be delivered. Consult one of the lawyers in the Find a Tenant Lawyer page of this site, and get going!
Your Dispute form is in Adobe Acrobat format. If you don't have the Acrobat Reader, yet, get it now. Download the Acrobat Reader program by clicking this icon: The program itself is free, easy to set up, and fast [from the download to running, about 5 minutes, altogether]
Once the 30 days expires after UD Registry gets your request, and they have not done everything the laws requires them to do, you file suit against them. Use one of the lawyers listed in the Find a Tenant Lawyer page to help you with that part.
To sue UD Registry is a problem, because they apparently will not disclose their place of business, which hinders your ability to personally view their blacklist against you, as well. Consequently, you will need to sue the owners and officers of the corporation where you can find them. You cannot simply serve them by mail. You should have your process server or the Sheriff personally serve them with the summons, subpoena, court order or whatever papers, directly.