Photo: Colorado Grandmother Sandra Cortez is Not a Narcoterrorist, but Her Credit Report Claimed Otherwise
When a dealership pulled her TransUnion credit report for Sandra Cortez in 2005, she found out she had been labeled a narcoterrorist. The manager even threatened to call the FBI.
Shocked by the accusation and horrified that an official document would say such a thing, Cortez and her attorney, James Francis, began a 7-year fight to clear her name.
Cortez discovered that at some point, her name had been crossed with that of purported Colombian narcoterrorist Sandra Cortes Quintera.
Francis recently told ABC News, ‘The credit reporting agencies are making horrible matching mistakes because they’re not using identifying criteria to make sure it’s the right person.’
Luckily, TransUnion was the only credit agency reporter Cortez was a narcoterrorist and the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN List) was not.
Cortez then took TransUnion to court claiming defamation, negligence, and invasion of privacy for releasing a “inaccurate information’ consisting of “statements that cannot be attributed.”
However, a U.S. Treasury officials told ABC OFAC does not track the false positives like Cortez experienced.
‘The Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN List) is a publicly available resource that is intended to aid financial institutions and the general public in compliance with U.S. sanctions,’ the official stated. ‘n some cases outside parties have been known to incorrectly identify persons as being on the SDN List. If someone feels they have been incorrectly identified they can contact OFAC.’
In the end, Cortez was awarded $150,000, and the incorrect alert was still on her credit file until the week for her trial.
As for that car - later that same day, Cortez said she received a call from the dealership and a sincere apology for the mix-up. She returned and was able to drive away with her new vehicle.