In October 2017, Plaintiff Jayson Gottman filed a class action complaint against Comcast Corporation. Comcast is a multinational, mass media company, headquartered in Pennsylvania. It is believed to be the largest home television and internet service provider in the United States with significant business performed in California under the marks Comcast and XFINITY.
As alleged in the complaint initiating the lawsuit, about one year prior, Gottman began to receive aggressive collection calls for a mysterious overdue Comcast account -- despite not having a recent relationship with the media provider. He discovered that someone had opened a fraudulent account in his name and let service charges accrue unpaid. Gottman then had the burden and inconvenience of proving to Comcast that the account was opened fraudulently and services were provided to an address unrelated to him. He also had to pursue corrections to his credit report.
Gottman appears to not be alone. According to the complaint, filed by the Arnold Law Firm in Sacramento, there may be in excess of 1,000 persons who have had the same experience over the past four years. The complaint goes on to state that Comcast failed to take reasonable steps to verify consumer identities when setting up accounts for cable television and other services, as required by California Civil Code 1785.20.3 and other related statutes, resulting in fraudulent accounts that could have been otherwise avoided.
The complaint alleges that Comcast routinely runs consumer credit inquiries to determine whether it will extend credit for new accounts. If personal information on the application does not match information on the credit report, the company allegedly takes no further steps to confirm the consumer's identity. Comcast representatives are permitted to proceed with setting up the new account for the sake of convenience. According to California law, companies must make a reasonable effort to verify the applicant's identity in the case of mismatched personal information.
Nevertheless, Comcast filed a motion to dismiss the complaint arguing that the company was not obligated to comply with these California standards. Comcast argued that federal law preempted the California standards, and argued that it was not legally possible to use a civil lawsuit brought by a victim of identity theft to require the company to take reasonable steps to avoid opening accounts for identity thieves. At proceedings on February 27, 2018, United States District Court Judge William B. Shubb did not agree and denied Comcast's Motion to Dismiss. (Read the Complaint, Comcast’s Motion to Dismiss, Arnold Law Firm’s Opposition, and the Court’s Order.)
If a fraudulent account was opened in your name with Comcast or XFINITY in California, and you would like to follow updates for this case, please contact Joshua H. Watson, the Arnold Law Firm attorney heading up the case. Mr. Watson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the contact form on this web page. We will keep you informed about this progress of this case against the company's unlawful and unfair practices in failing to comply with California laws protecting consumers from identity theft.
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