I received a collections call on behalf of Comcast saying I had a balance of almost 1k outstanding.
There was an account opened with my information in Sacramento, CA. They had services started, and never paid any of the bill.
I was currently living in Chico, CA. About 2 hours away.
Here's the thing... they used a bogus phone number to set up the account. My name, and social security #, but fake phone number.
The account that I had been using (my legit account) in Chico, CA had my actual phone number.
Collections called my legit phone number for collections. How?
I was able to get the service address for the people who stole my identity, but the police have been pretty useless.
In order to stop the debt collectors, I need a police report, notarized and paperwork submitted to comcast. I no longer live in California (where I first filed the initial report) and can not get a copy from my Sheriff's dept without showing them my ID in person. (I called and asked). So unless I can fork over money for a plane ticket (which I don't have) I can't get a copy of the police report.
Q: would I be able to sue comcast for not having proper fraud flags to prevent this?
The cost of a plane ticket is trivial compared to the legal fees and costs of suing a huge company like Comcast, which paid $30 billion to buy NBC in 2009. Unless you're willing to spend hundreds of thousands in a dispute over $1,000, you'll have to continue to negotiate with them.
This is NOT legal advice. It is a general discussion of legal principles by a California lawyer, and does not create an attorney/client relationship. You should always consult PRIVATELY with an attorney. Free consultation only applies to potential clients with a criminal case within 100 miles of Chico, California.
Anybody can sue anybody else. Doesn't mean you will win. I think a lawsuit in this circumstance would be a guaranteed loser. And remember, Comcast can afford many lawyers to defend the case. Either come to California to get the report, or wait for them to sue you.
A lawsuit is not the answer to this problem. It is not up to Comcast (or its debt collectors) to automatically know who is the victim of Identity Theft and who is a deadbeat who is trying to avoid paying an old cable bill. You have to convince the debt collector that its not your debt.
Look at information online about how to deal with Identity Theft. Start by writing to the debt collector and providing an "Identity Theft Affidavit"-- you can get this online from the Federal Trade Commission. In a cover letter, inform the debt collector that the account was opened by someone else, that you did not incur the debt, and that you will not pay the debt. Inform the debt collector that the matter was reported to the police in Chico, California, but that you are currently unable to get a copy of that police report because you no longer live in the Chico area. Send the letter and ID Theft Affidavit to the debt collector by USPS Certified Mail with Return Receipt.
If your credit is impacted, open disputes with each Credit Reporting Agency that shows delinquent debt owed to Comcast. If you continue to get calls and dunning letters regarding the debt, contact a consumer attorney who practices in the area where you are now living.
This answer is for general information purposes only and is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is intended or formed by the posting of this answer. Law Office of Lisa J. Espada * San Francisco, CA *
You might want to consider filing a new police report where you live. You should also go to FTC.gov and fill out an identity theft affidavit. Send the police report and the affidavit to Comcast and to each of the credit reporting agencies, and explain your dispute in a letter. Keep in mind while you are disputing the debt, there are powerful federal laws that govern Comcast's debt collection attempts. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"), if Comcast is calling your cell phone using an automated system (robocalls), and you have told them to stop calling, each call you get is worth $500! In addition, debt collectors are bound to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), and they are prohibited from harassing you with excessive calls or aggressive tactics. If Comcast violated the FDCPA when attempting to collect the debt, you would be entitled to up to another $1,000, plus payment of your attorneys fees. You should consider reaching out to an experienced consumer protection attorney for a consultation if any of the forgoing applies to you - most will take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no out of pocket costs to you.
Please note my answer does not constitute legal advice, and you should not rely on it in your decision making. Each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. My answer does not create an attorney-client relationship, and you are advised to contact an attorney to obtain legal advice before taking or refraining from taking any action with respect to the above.
I disagree with the previous responses and I have actually litigated identity theft cases against some of the largest telecom companies in the country.
I think you can sue and I think you probably have a decent case. There's also a good chance that you'll fall under a consumer protection statute that requires they pay your legal fees so I think think you should worry about the cost or suing a big company. You're the victim and the focus should be on your rights and finding a good attorney.
Please be advised: I'm licensed in California only. This response is intended only as general commentary not legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. This response may be considered "attorney advertising" material. Nothing in this posting should be considered a guarantee, warranty, or prediction of the outcome of your case or any other case.
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