Can I sue somebody for obtaining my checking accountnumber and charges me without my authorization?

My cable company obtained my checking account number and charged me $150 but I’m not a customer and never been.  I don’t know how did they got my account number because I did not authorise that nor give them my account infoormation. Can I sue them for that? If so, for how much?

Asked on July 21, 2010 under General Practice, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the cable company charged you $150 without authorization, you can sue them for the $150, plus any additional charges or fees growing out of it: for example, for any administrative costs, or the cost to possibly change banks or accounts to avoid this in the future. The problem is, in lawsuits like this, you can *generally* only sue for the actual losses or damages you suffered.

Sometimes, there may be a law or statute allowing a suit for a multiple of losses in certain defined cases involving,  for example, consumer fraud; and in a very few cases, if the defendant's conduct is sufficiently egregious, punitive damages may be allowed, which again are typically a multiple of the actual loses.

The problem for a lawsuit is that even if there is some way to get 2 or 3 times your losses, it's still not worth the cost of a lawsuit.

However, more importantly, is: 1) how did this happen; 2) who did this; 2) what else has been done--for example, have you been the victim of identify theft. You may wish to contact the police, because taking your bank account number and charging without authorizaton would be fraud if done deliberately; you should make you bank and the utility look into the matter, to determine what happened; and you should probably check your credit report.


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