Mom Says For-Profit School Stole Her Identity

     (CN) — The mother of a student attending Fortis Institute in Birmingham, Ala., claims in court that the for-profit school used her personal information to fraudulently charge her for a student loan.
     Julie Rogers, a resident of Jefferson County, Ala., sued Fortis on Tuesday, along with its parent organization Education Affiliates LLC, in Northern Alabama Federal Court.
     According to the complaint, the school acquired her information while her son was going through the enrollment process.
     She provided the information for the purpose of being listed as an emergency contact, but when she attempted to obtain a student loan for herself four months later, she was told she was ineligible “because she already had an outstanding student loan with Fortis Institute,” the complaint states.
     After contacting Fortis to inquire about the issue, Rogers claims she learned that Fortis had obtained her credit report using a forged document. She also says she discovered the existence of a promissory note purportedly making her responsible for the repayment of a loan.
     “It was at this time that plaintiff became aware that Fortis had defrauded her and had created false loan documents,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff had never before seen the documents provided to her by Fortis, and was unaware of the existence of these documents, did not sign these or any other such documents, and did not authorize anyone to sign these, or any other Fortis related documents on her behalf.”
     Rogers alleges she subsequently received notice from an organization called the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation that her account was past due.
     According to the complaint, the defendants’ behavior violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well as the state’s Consumer Identity Protection Act.
     “In simplest terms, defendants stole plaintiff’s identity for the purpose of its own profit,” the lawsuit states.
     Rogers claims this was all part of a general “pattern and practice” designed to increase profits for Fortis and Education Affiliates.
     “Defendants, as part of their routine course of business, participate in such unlawful and surreptitious activity in an effort to maximize the profit made by defendants through student education financing,” the complaint states.
     The lawsuit asserts claims for negligence, invasion of privacy, fraud, libel, defamation and false light.
     Fortis is a for-profit institution offering a variety of career training programs, and is owned and operated by Education Affiliates, which is headquartered in Baltimore, Md.
     Education Affiliates did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Friday.
     Rogers is represented by Birmingham attorneys Thomas Donald and Michael Parrish.

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