Can a company charge my card to pay for someoneelse’saccount without my express permission?

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Can a company charge my card to pay for someoneelse’saccount without my express permission?

AT&T charged my card today for my ex-girlfriend’s delinquent account. I didn’t give them permission to make the charge. I believe they have my information because I used the card once (maybe a year ago) to help her pay a bill. I did not give them permission to keep my card on file. They have refused to refund on the payment. They also refused to remove my card from their system. I believe they are planning to charge me again. My bank agreed to dispute the charge under Regulation E, but said they cannot prevent future charges. Is there anything I can do? I have never purchased a product or service from them. Is this legal?

Asked on July 5, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, no--a service provider (or retailer or distributor or etc.) cannot charge someone's card without permission. It is possible that you gave them persmission in the past to use this card to pay charges--you would need to reference any terms, agreements, etc. made at the time you provided the card previously--since when cards are provided for payments of ongoing accounts or services, it is often expressly so they can be charged against in the future, too.

You have two routes to stop them from doing this again:

1) Go to court and seek a court order preventing them from charging your account.

2) Close this card down and have the credit card issuer issue you a new card with a new account number--just call up and tell them the truth: that a vendor who you let charge the card once in the past is putting charges against your card without your permission, so you need to prevent them from being able to do this. It would be like having the credit card provder issue you a new card when you've lost a credit card or had your wallet stolen: it should not affect your credit (you can ask them this first, to confirm this, before going ahead), but will prevent anyone from using the old card. You'll have to go and give the new information to anyone who is allowed to charge from that account (e.g. Amazon.com, your own phone provider, etc.), which is a headache, but is likely much cheaper than bringing a legal action (option 1, above).


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