I am in the same position with Sprint as Gokula of Walnut Creek, CA, Ripoff Report # 267129 (http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/267/RipOff0267129.htm), with the same bill collector, Cavalry Portfolio Services, which has, even through its attorney, perpetrated several FCRA, FACTA, and FDCPA violations, but I have read that such violation are only to be expected from bill collectors and should thus be the subject of a separate Ripoff Report, perhaps even of a private lawsuit or two, but probably not of class action.
Like Gokula, I have never been a Sprint customer or owned a Sprint phone but was charged by Cavalry with owing Sprint over $1000. When I asked Cavalry in writing for an explanation of the charge, they had their attorney write me a letter threatening to sue me (for, naturally, a different amount). At my written request, the alleged debt has since been allegedly verified by the attorney, but my local police consider the alleged verification a forgery and hence inappropriate for use as the basis for an identity theft report.
This leaves me with the choice of filing either a notarized Federal Trade Commission affidavit of identity theft with no police report verification, an action which might result in rejection of my dispute, or else signing Sprint's or Cavalry's statement of dispute, both of which are ambiguous about whether they are to be used to report mistaken identity, billing error, or corporate fraud as well as identity theft. However, if I sign either dispute statement, I will be forced both to provide false information about my identity (since my name is not spelled as it appears on the alleged account) and, it would seem, also to waive my federal rights to obtain evidence for appeal should Sprint or Cavalry deny my dispute. If I sign Cavalry's dispute statement, which replaces Sprint's word petitioner with the word customer, then not only would I be admitting that I'm the person whose name appears on the account, but I'd also be admitting that I'm a Sprint customer, when I have actually never been a Sprint customer.
To better understand my situation and the possibilities for class action litigation if this is happening to others, I would appreciate any information others can provide on the following issues:
What percentage of Sprint disputes that include notarized FTC affidavits of identity theft but no police report of identity theft are resolved entirely in the petitioner's favor, and how long does that take? (I assume Sprint's web site is not a good guide in this matter).
What percentage of Sprint disputes that include completed, notarized Sprint, Cavalry, or other debt collector Statements of Dispute forms on which petitioners waive their federal rights to obtain application and billing transaction records are dismissed by Sprint, leaving the petitioner with no evidence on which to base an appeal? How does this break down according to whether the form is from Sprint, Cavalry, or other debt collectors?
How many people who have never been Sprint customers have received notifications that they are responsible for fraudulent Sprint accounts? What percentage of these cases really involved identity theft? What percentage of these non-customers have only been notified by bill collectors, never by Sprint? Does Sprint check addresses or call to see if anyone is at the addresses they mail bills to? Does Sprint ever mail bills to these fraudulent accounts, or only allegedly verify them when required to by law?
What percentage of people who have never been Sprint customers and who have received fraudulent Sprint bills have gone ahead and paid them anyway? What was the average payment and range? What was the average alleged bill and range?
If you can answer any of the above questions, on what basis are your calculations made? Can you provide any evidence of your allegations?
Because I will be faxing Sprint a copy of this Ripoff Report in the hope that they will resolve my dispute expeditiously in return for my updating this report to so indicate, if you are a real whistle blower, dis-grunt worker, etc. I would ask that you simply register and provide your screen name, city and state so that Ripoff Report can put us in touch with a class action attorney in the future. If you actually answer these questions in your rebuttal below, I will assume you work for Sprint and are underestimating the actual numbers to set my mind at ease and reassure the public, as should anyone else reading this.
If you have been victimized as I have (yes, believe me, youll know; I think I now have an inkling of what rape must be like), the Ripoff Report staff asks that you not reply in the Rebuttal section but instead file your own report; however, I would ask that you reference the number and web address of this report in your own report so that our reports can be linked together. This will make the job of the media and any attorneys interested in pursuing these issues a lot easier.
For anyone interested in learning more about what may be a rather intriguing case, I have reprinted my recent letter to the Better Business Bureau of Greater Kansas City below. I have removed all the names involved to protect privacy.
If the police officer whose name I cant mention is out there reading this, I know youre not really that unsympathetic. I was just saying that in the hope that those good people at Sprint would have some pity on me. I promise Ill take you out to dinner when this is all over.
[Street Address of Conned Sumer]
Washington, DC [Conneds Zip]
November 12, 2007
[Name of Case Officer Assigned to Conned Sumers Case]
Better Business Bureau
8080 Ward Parkway
Kansas City, MO 64114
Cc: [Name of Sprint Representative handling Case # 1490853]
Executive Services Analyst
Sprint Executive and Regulatory Services
4701 Mercantile Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76137
[Complaint Investigator's Name]
Consumer Protection Unit
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Reference # CF-2007-29076 Sprint
Consumer Protection Division
Office of the Attorney General
120 SW 10th Street, Suite 430
Topeka, KS 66612-1597
Dear M[BBB Case Officer's name]:
This letter is in reference to the business response to Better Business Bureau case #99206511 regarding alleged Sprint Account 0535311934, Cavalry Portfolio Services Reference Number 12057193. The instructions which M[Sprint Rep] of Sprint's Executive and Regulatory Services has kindly and promptly provided to me on how to petition for resolution of a dispute with Sprint unfortunately do not provide all the assistance I will likely need from Sprint in order to resolve my dispute. In order to assure an outcome that will stop the collection attempt and clear my credit reports of this alleged debt, M[Sprint Rep] states that I will need to provide convincing evidence to Sprint's fraud department that I am not responsible for this alleged debt and that I have had my identity stolen. To make this evidence convincing, M[Sprint Rep] states that I will need to provide a copy of a police report (if applicable) as well as verification of my address on the date the account was opened. Sprint has not provided written verification of the date on which the account was opened, nor has Sprint provided the billing and transaction records, account application, and service agreement necessary for me to obtain a police report of identity theft from the DC police department. The alleged verification of the alleged account provided to me by the debt collector's attorney does not constitute evidence of identity theft in the opinion of DC police Officer [Officer's Name] (who visited my home on October 10, 2007, the evening I received alleged verification of the alleged debt, after a dispatch call taken by operator 501029, [Dispatcher's Name] at 20:41, as may be verified by [Police Administrator's Name] at 202-730-0550) since the document appeared so ludicrously suspicious to him as to suggest corporate fraud, and the police do not consider fraudulent use of a consumer's information by a company to be included in the definition of identity theft, nor do they write police reports for cases of corporate fraud. The unsympathetic officer stated he would only write a police report if I had independent evidence from other accounts or else presented him with the application, service agreement, and billing and transaction history of the account to prove that it was an actual account, not one fabricated by Sprint with unconvincing nonsensical charges. Although it has been two years since the bill date of the alleged verification, there is unfortunately no other blemish on my credit history. Since I have no knowledge of any other accounts having ever been opened in my name, and as my credit cards are not being misused, I can furnish no such additional evidence of identity theft to the police officer. Therefore, without a clear written statement from M[Sprint Rep] attesting that Sprint's fraud department does not consider a police report to be applicable in cases in which a citizen's identity has been misused by someone employed by Sprint rather than by a third party, I am unable to determine whether I have sufficient evidence to file a dispute that is likely to result in a successful outcome.
Assuming M[Sprint Rep] is kind enough to provide such a statement, I would still be unable to provide appropriate accompanying evidence. If I were to submit a notarized Federal Trade Commission affidavit of identity theft, as suggested on the enclosed copy of a page from Sprint's web site, in lieu of M[Sprint Rep]s notarized Statement of Dispute, I believe I would then be claiming that a police report of identity theft is indeed applicable, thereby compromising my case, as I would not be able to provide such a report. If instead I were to submit a notarized Statement of Dispute provided to me by Sprint's Executive & Regulatory Services, I would be in the position of claiming that my name and that on the Sprint account are the same, when in fact they are spelled differently, and I would also need to agree to release the usage or billing records from this [alleged] account, a statement which appears to suggest I would be relinquishing my rights under federal law, FCRA 609(e)(1) as amended by FACTA subtitle B Section 151, to obtain the application and billing transaction records from the alleged account once I have provided evidence that my personal information has been misused or compromised. I would hate to lose these rights in the event that Sprints fraud department finds my complaint unconvincing.
The best solution for me (and it would seem for Sprint's legal department as well, since DC Code 28-3904(q) explicitly authorizes consumers access to service contracts and trust agreements) would be for M[Sprint Rep] to provide me now with the application, service agreement, billing and transaction records of this account, since they are supposedly in my name and under my social security number, since I have repeatedly requested them on the phone and in writing, since I have digitally recorded verification from Sprint customer service representatives that these records still exist, and since Sprint has provided no reason why I should not have access to what Sprint considers to be my own records, as I have not yet demonstrated otherwise. I cannot see that there would be a privacy issue in providing what are alleged to be my records, as the alleged verification already provides the address of the alleged identity thief, a Chicago address where I have never lived, as the Sprint customer service representatives I recorded with permission have already provided two phone numbers they believe are associated with the account, as the account has been closed for collection and the phone numbers seemingly reassigned from what I can tell by calling them. I have already located the address and working phone number of an actual [Name on Alleged Account] (with the exact spelling) currently living in Portland Oregon and formerly in San Francisco. As there are no names associated with the account other than a misspelling of my own name, providing me with access to the account records would not offer me any greater access to the alleged identity thief than I currently have and thus no apparent reason for Sprint to continue to withhold this documentation.
However, it may still be possible for me to submit an Executive & Regulatory Services Statement of Dispute without a police report if M[Sprint Rep] could kindly provide written notice both of the time the account was established and of the fact that in cases of corporate fraud or mistaken identity (there being an actual [Name on Alleged Account] with the correct spelling living in Portland Oregon), as opposed to third party identity theft, the failure to include a police report when filing a dispute with Sprint will not be counted against the petitioner when an investigation of a possible billing error is conducted. M[Sprint Rep] would also need to amend her letter of November 6, 2007 to replace the statement if it is confirmed that identity theft did occur. to read if it is confirmed that identity theft, mistaken identity, billing error or corporate fraud did occur and the reference to identity theft fraud packet will also need to be replaced with identity theft, corporate fraud, billing error, or mistaken identity packet, as would her instruction sheet, which states you have been the victim of identity theft to state you have been the victim of identity theft, mistaken identity, billing error or corporate fraud. I would also ask that M[Sprint Rep] amend the dispute form to include separate lines for petitioner's name and name on the account and to either remove the statement Petitioner authorizes Sprint to release the usage or billing records from this account from the form or else add an explanation stating to whom these usage or billing records will be released, for what purpose, where they will then be located, in what condition they will then be in terms of legibility, how the petitioner may obtain access to them, and what effect the release will have on the petitioner's rights under FCRA 609(e)(1). This assumes of course that the release in question does not involve destruction, dismemberment, or sequestering of the usage or billing records.
The enclosed documentation, which Sprint has provided as verification, though attorney [Cavalry Portfolio Service's Attorney's Name]s accompanying letter says it contains billing statements, actually consists only of a generic 20-page Terms and Conditions statement that might apply to any of thousands of accounts, along with one page of an alleged 5-page bill from August 1, 2005. The alleged bill lists no phone numbers, dates of service, or transactions whatsoever, in short, nothing that would indicate that this alleged account was used by an actual person with a phone and phone number to make phone calls rather than arbitrarily fabricated by the Sprint accounting department. The alleged bill indicates charges on the account had at some point reached $2427.92 before the account was allegedly closed by Sprint, which, according a conversation I had with Sprint customer service on October 11, 2007, happened on July 22, 2005, shortly before the date listed on the alleged partial bill I was mailed. DC police officer [Officer's Name] considers the maximum amount of $2427.92 highly unusual, as he had never seen a wireless phone account permitted to exceed $800 before being terminated by the vendor. The alleged bill lists as Total Adjustments a credit of -1856.46, implying either that my dispute is not the first case in which Sprint has made a gross error in processing this alleged account, or that someone using a variant spelling of my name and my social security number actually paid a good portion of the delinquent charges that it would have been in their interest to have left to the identity theft victim to pay. That is, if a private criminal could as easily steal the full $2427.92 as the balance of $1012.46, it is unclear why he would chose to steal the lesser amount. The DC police thus consider the reported Total Adjustments to be inconsistent with a case of traditional third party identity theft.
The alleged bill lists Other Charges of $400.50 and Taxes, Surcharges, and Fees of $40.50, yet also explicitly states under Total Minutes Used the following You have not used any minutes this bill period. If the alleged identity thief did not use any minutes, it is mysterious why the thief should have been charged these Other Charges or Taxes, Surcharges and Fees for the particular billing period at issue. Page 11 of Terms and Conditions mentions late fees of 5% per month or at the highest rate allowed by law. The terms do not say whichever is higher, or whichever is lower and do not specify which laws are applicable in determining the actual rate. From the late fee history that has been provided to me so far, different laws appear to apply at random depending on the month. Five per cent of the original amount, $1012.46 is $50.62, yet the amount due after August 29th on page of the alleged bill attorney [Cavalry Portfolio Services Attorneys Name] provided states the bill of $1012.46 will be raised only by $24.70, to $1037.16, not $1063.08. Twenty-one months later, in May of 2007, when I received the first enclosed letter from Cavalry Portfolio Services, the amount had increased by only $87.65, to $1100.11. If 5% per month were charged, even without compounding, this amount would have been reached within 2 months, hardly 21 months. Even at $24.70 or 2.44% per month, it would take less than 4 months to reach this figure, not 21 months. If an increase of $24.70 per month, or its percentage equivalent for the first month, 2.44%, per month, were the maximum allowed by law for a one month period, it is not clear why this same law should not apply proportionally to a twenty-one month period. Subsequent statements suggest the amount of additional charges continues to vary by the month. As reported on a credit report I requested from TransUnion and received on 10-06-2007, the amount was $1114 as of August 2007, a $13.89 increase over a 3-month period, or $4.63 per month. As of September 2007, as reported by TransUnion on October 18, 2007, after my request for independent verification of the alleged debt from them, the amount stood at $1119, a $5.00 increase over a one month period, not a 5% increase, and not the same amount or percentage per month as for the previous increase. According to the laws of the District of Columbia, DC Code 28-3814(g)(4), vendors may not charge any interest or fees incidental to the principal obligation which are not expressly authorized in the agreement creating the obligation, nor, according to DC Code 28-3814(f)(8), may they represent that an existing obligation of the consumer [the term consumer including alleged debtors] may be increased by the addition of attorneys fees, investigation fees, service fees, or any other fees or charges when in fact such fees or charges may not legally be added to the existing obligation. It is thus understandable that the DC police would consider the pattern of charges in the alleged verification and subsequent statements of alleged debt to be more consistent with a pattern of fabricated arbitrary charges than with an actual account used by an actual person with an actual phone. It is also curious that, according to Cavalry Portfolio Services attorneys letter of August 29, 2007, Sprint continues to own this two-year-old allegedly delinquent alleged debt, rather than selling it outright to the bill collector at a loss, as one might expect if there were a real delinquent phone user in Chicago who continually refused to pay $2427.92 in phone charges (except when he or she allegedly paid $1856.46 in the billing period prior to August 1, 2005).
Once again, let me apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused your office and/or M[Sprint Rep] in requesting additional assistance in preparing my dispute petition for Sprints fraud department. I recognize that Sprint is a highly reputable company known for outstanding customer service. Although citizens unfamiliar with Sprint may at first be a bit confused as to which of the many divisions of Sprint is actually the fraud department, Sprint makes a conscientious point, on both its web site and on its automated telephone customer service system, of explaining prominently exactly how citizens should protest when they have never had Sprint service yet have received bills from bill collectors (not Sprint itself) alleging that they owe Sprint money. It is never necessary to wait on the phone or call a number on the web site to speak with an actual person to obtain an explanation of this dispute resolution process. While I am very sorry M[Sprint Rep] thought it necessary to provide me this prominent information again, I am very pleased that she thought of doing so, especially as her information differs somewhat from the process described on the web site and on the automated phone system. Although I cant comment on Sprint PCS wireless service of the sort provided in the alleged account, as I have never been a subscriber or owned a Sprint phone, I am happy to say I recall only one time when Sprint illegally switched my long distance service from my actual long distance company without my permission, and though Sprint refused to withdraw the patently illegal charges, it graciously agreed to permit me to pay for the calls at the rate my own phone company would have charged me had Sprint permitted them to continue to offer service. I am confident I will receive the same fair quality of service from Sprint in this matter, and I look forward to M[Sprint Rep]s gracious assistance in speedily resolving this dispute by assisting me in preparing the appropriate documentation for my dispute petition.
[Conned Sumer's Clark Kent]
(Conned, Washington, DC)
Washington, District of Columbia
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Sprint