If a cell phone account is opened in my name by someone other than me andis used by that person to commit fraud, do I have recourse against cell phone provider?

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If a cell phone account is opened in my name by someone other than me andis used by that person to commit fraud, do I have recourse against cell phone provider?

Asked on June 13, 2011 under General Practice, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Were you damaged or injured in some way? For example, were you billed for the other person's phone usage? Were you arrested because the police thought he was you? Has your credit been damaged? Etc. That's the first hurdle seeking recourse--there  must be something for which you are seeking recourse. No damage, loss, or injury, there is nothing to take action for--the legal system is designed to compensate for loss, etc., not to punish for doing things that we find unacceptable. So if you were fortunate enough to not be injured, as practical matter, there is nothing you could sue, etc. for.

Second, did the phone company do anything wrong, in the sense that they were negligent or careless? If so, and if you suffered some loss, you may have grounds for recourse...but if the fraudster had all the usual information or ID to open the account, nothing wrong was done; the phone provider has to take reasonable care, but is not required to be perfect. If they checked everything they normally would have but were themselves faked out, they would not be negligent.


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