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Identity Theft Attempt Sparks Class Action Over Verizon 'Fraud Services'

A New York man claims in a just-filed class action lawsuit that Verizon intentionally hid from him that an “imposter” tried to use his identity to buy a cell phone and service—and still charged him for the fraudulent purchases.

In February 2017, a New York Verizon customer claims to have noticed his service bills were abnormally high. When he complained to the company about the gross overcharges, he says he was informed by Verizon’s Fraud Services Department (FSD) that back in October 2016 an “imposter” entered a Wesley Chapel, Florida Best Buy store and, claiming to be the man, ordered a cell phone and service from the carrier. When asked for basic identifying information, the imposter supposedly fled the store.

Even without proper proof of the imposter’s identity, the New York man says he was still charged for this new cell phone and service, despite never being notified by Verizon that he was the subject of an identity theft attempt.

The reason for Verizon being tight-lipped to the alleged fraud? The company’s corporate policy allegedly calls for it to remain mum on fraudulent activity on a customer’s account until he or she becomes aware of the overcharges and then complains to Verizon him- or herself.

The above scenario is what’s laid out in a proposed class action lawsuit filed in New York against Verizon Communications and Cellco Partnership, which does business as Verizon Wireless Services, LLC. The plaintiff—the New York man mentioned above—claims in his 13-page lawsuit that the defendants intentionally—and unlawfully—fail to inform consumers about fraudulent autopay transactions and overcharges and, even worse, intentionally choose not to remove such costs until contacted.

The plaintiff summarily claims he never authorized the defendants to deduct money via autopay from his account for any additional cell phone, cell phone line, or any other services.  As a result of its alleged policy of keeping quiet about consumer fraud and charging individuals for products and/or services they did not buy or even want, Verizon has made substantial profits and windfalls—upward of $75,000, the complaint alleges. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the alleged fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment, as well as injunctive relief.

The proposed class named in the lawsuit includes all individuals from whom Verizon charged funds via autopay without their agreement, knowledge, or consent. The lawsuit says thousands of consumers nationwide may have been affected by Verizon’s alleged conduct described above.

The full complaint can be read below.

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