TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Arbitration Left ID Theft Victim With $27,000 Bill

Re: Arbitration Left ID Theft Victim With $27,000 Bill

Marcus Didius Falco (
Tue, 01 Mar 2005 22:29:44 -0500

> Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 21:43:30 EST
> From: TELECOM Digest Editor <>
> Subject: Re: Arbitration Left ID Theft Victim With $27,000 Bill

> Marcus D. Falco responded to a question posed by myself regards the
> original newspaper article and an observation by Lisa Hancock:

>>> Her problem is that she didn't show up to contest the charges so
>>> the credit card company got a "default judgement." These can be
>>> vacated in court because you can appeal. But generally you can't
>>> appeal an arbitration award.

>>> Yes, I thought your liability from a 'stolen' card (which this
>>> is) was $50.00?

>> Only if you notify them within 24 or 48 hours. She didn't notify
>> them for weeks, until the bill came in.

> Did you mean to say 'notify them within 24 or 48 hours _of the
> discovery of the fraud/loss_'? Unless a person has online access to
> their account via computer (in which case a daily audit of your
> account would be a good idea, even if not practical), exactly how
> would one know their card had been 'stolen' or abused until the
> statement arrived. Now, if your statement did arrive, and all that
> fraud was spotted, then indeed it would be prudent to call and tell
> them _immediatly_ about it.

IANAL, however, I think she would have had to notify them immediately
on discovery of the loss. Normally, that is within a day or two of
losing the card. In this instance the card was not lost; the number
was misused. Presumably she had to notify the issuer within days of
receipt of the bill. But then it becomes a matter of contested

At this point a good lawyer could have helped her. Apparently, she
waited until the case went to collection, without invoking her
rights. Credit card companies don't send a case to collection
immediately. So there's a question as to why they sent disputed
charges to collection and how long it took them to do so.

A lawyer could have invoked additional defences. For example, credit
card companies will start to query charges as soon as an unusual
pattern develops. I've had charges refused because I was in a
different country or a different state, or was charging types of items
I don't usually charge. Usually, this means I have to call the credit
company and talk to them, identifying myself by several bits of
information. None of these are impossible for a good thief to find out
(mother's maiden name, social security number, billing address and zip
code), but they should stop casual theft.

In this case there's an implication that the thief claimed to be the
woman's sister. But the credit card company should have called the
woman's house, or even sent a letter (I have received such
letters -- not much help for me because I was out of the country at the
time, but possibly helpful in the case of this woman).

> I know in the interstate handling of freight, rules about 'notify
> the shipper and/or delivery service immediatly about damage to the
> shipment' have an exception for 'concealed damage'. Even if you
> signed off to accept the shipment, you can later discover the
> damage (when the shipment is unpacked, for example). Can't the same
> thing be done in the case of 'concealed fraud' that you do not
> discover until after the fact?

> I know my credit card is 'online' so I can check it at any time
> on a web page, and I would notify all concerned of fraud the
> instant I saw it on the credit company's web site.

The latest I've heard is that some on-line sites, such as,
are limiting their liability if their website is hacked.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Yeah, but Verizon is not a credit card
company. I was speaking about the banks which distribute Visa/MC and
put customer balances on line for review, etc. PAT]

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