Revenge is proving costly for one California mortgage broker accused of attacking disgruntled clients who posted negative Yelp reviews about his services with his own snarky morsels about their financial and personal lives.
Ramon Walker, the sole owner of Mortgage Solutions, will pay $120,000 to settle allegations he illegally revealed the credit histories, debt, income, tax, family relationships and other personal information of consumers who criticized him online, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.
In replying to one negative Yelp review, the agency said, Walker wrote on behalf of his company, also called Mount Diablo Lending: "Your credit report shows 4 late payments from the Capital One account, 1 late from Comenity Bank which is Pier 1, another late from Credit First Bank, 3 late payments from an account named SanMateo. Not to mention the mortgage lates. All of these late payments are having an enormous negative impact on your credit score."
Several of Walker's responses also revealed reviewers' first and last names, according to the complaint, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC.
The broker's actions violate laws including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, according to Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
"Companies that use credit reports and scores have a legal obligation to keep that information confidential," Smith said in a statement. "They should not disclose that information to third parties without a legitimate reason to do so, and they certainly should not post that information on the internet to embarrass or punish consumers, as happened here."
Walker declined to comment for this story.