Monday, January 16, 2006

Cell phone user might be liable for fraudulent charges... pretty horrible!

This Slashdot post definitely sends some shivers down the spine: "When Sarah Drummond got back from Israel, she found a cell phone bill for more than $12,000. She contacted her cell phone provider to let them know that someone had stolen her phone, but they weren't interested in helping her and told her she'd have to pay (!)..."

Obviously, we do not have all the facts, but, if true, it sounds really really horrible. I have a sneaking suspicion that her credit card company won't help her to cancel the charges in this case (if automatic bill paymemt was enabled).

In general, it sure looks like consumers of products enjoy much more protections than consumers of services in this country. You can always bring the gadget back to, say, Walmart (or even a food item back to a supermarket, in many cases), but how do you bring "back" you cell phone usage? A plumber services? Or a wedding photographer services, in the most extreme case?

Any advice? What are the protections available under such circumstances? BBB? Consumer Affairs? Litigation? I think I am sliding away from the original subject, but let's look at the bigger picture here - how do you protect yourself from fraudulent or incompetent service providers, that either allow fradud to happen or commit fraud themselves?

Dr Anton Chuvakin