SAN FRANCISCO, March 14 Leukemia survivor Eric Drewannounced today that he has reached a settlement with TransUnion over hislawsuit against the credit reporting company charging negligence pertaining toa case of identity theft.
TransUnion is the first of six credit reporting companies and banks whichDrew has filed a federal lawsuit against to come to terms on the case.Litigation is still pending against Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Equifaxand Experian.
Five years ago, Eric Drew was on his death bed with leukemia when hisidentity was stolen by a worker at the hospital where he was being treated.Credit was issued in his name to a fraudulent address in Washington State,where he was hospitalized but wasn't a resident. Drew alleges that the banksdid not verify the address or applications, and that when he called tocomplain from his hospital bed, he was told to submit paperwork to prove thatit wasn't him.
"I was fighting for my life, barely able to function, and then on top ofall that, I had to leave the hospital to help find the criminal and fight toclear my credit," said Drew. "I was determined not to let cancer or a thiefget the best of me."
Eventually, with the help of local news media, the identity of the thiefwas revealed -- a lab technician who had access to Drew's medical informationwhile conducting blood tests. This led to an unprecedented arrest and thefirst federal conviction under the Health Information Portability andAccountability Act (HIPAA).
But even this did not clear Drew's name. It took him two years to clearhis credit reports of the fraudulent address and past due account information."The main point of my lawsuit is to change the system so no one else has toever go through what I did," said Drew.
In this unprecedented settlement, TransUnion agreed on an undisclosedfinancial sum, as well as three major policy changes which they have agreed toimplement in the next six months.
"TransUnion has done a great thing here and should be praised for theirleadership," said Drew. "These policy changes will not only help impairedvictims of identity theft, but will also change the way that all Americans aretreated when they are victims of this crime."
In addition to being a crusader against identity theft, Drew has dedicatedhis life's work to providing advocacy and education to seriously ill patientsand their families.These policy changes include: -- Protection for impaired (hospitalized or elderly) victims of identity theft by allowing them or their caregivers to submit a verifiable note from a doctor or medical facility in lieu of the traditionally required police report and affidavit to have fraudulent items removed from their credit report. -- All victims of identity theft will have all information pertaining to that theft permanently removed from their credit report even if it is re-reported. -- A free credit freeze for all victims of identity theft when they request it.