Can someone please help me understand Comcast's logic about this billing issue?

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Oct 26, 2015
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My friend and I were graduate students in the US until last year. We both used Comcast service (at different address). When my friend opened an account with Comcast back in 2014, for some unknown reasons, the account was opened under my name instead of his (I did not know this until recently. However, I never supply any ID to Comcast for that account and, according to my friend, the ID submitted to open the account was my friend's.) My friend claimed that he tried to correct this issue with Comcast a few times back then but it was too much trouble for him so he gave up after a few tries (from his perspective, there was no downside of having the bill under my name).

The problem came when we both graduated and left the US in 2016. Apparently, the was a final bill for a few days of service that left unpaid in the amount of $37. The bill came after he left so he never knew about the existence of that bill and thus never paid it. As a result, the bill went to collection. However, as you can guess, the collection was filed under my record and I became aware of that collection notice in September 2017.

I asked my friend about this and he profusely apologized (about the fact that he never told me that the account was opened erroneously under my name and the fact that he did not pay the last bill - resulting in a collection record under my name). In addition, he is willing to take the responsibility for it. We contacted Comcast, trying to resolve this issue. However, for all of customer service channels that we have contacted so far (including regular phone line, Comcast Ecare email address, and the executive office), they insist that I must file a police report and submit an identity theft claim (against my friend) in order to resolve this problem. I also sent an email to several Comcast Execs listed on http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/comcast/. All attempts were looped back to the regional executive office and ended up with the same response.

I do not want to file an identity theft claim in this case for two reasons:

1) The identity theft claim requires me to submit a police report and a notarized affidavit. Since I already left the US, it is hard to do so because I obviously cannot file a police report at my current place of living about an incident that happened in the US over a year ago. In addition, there is no notarized service available here.

2) More importantly, I don't want to accuse my friend of identity theft. I believe it is more likely that Comcast screwed something up in the account opening process than my friend being an identity thief (I did not have many IDs that can be used for identity verification back in 2014 and I am 100% sure that my friend had no access to them and did not falsify them).

In the process of trying to solve this issue, the only argument that all Comcast representatives used is that, according to their first billing statement, the account was under my name. As a result, the burden of proof is on me to show that I did not authorize to open an account. As you know, proofing that you did not do something is almost impossible, therefore they conclude that the only way to do it is to file an identity theft claim. However, when I asked them to supply any document/evidence of potential identity theft (for example, I would be more comfortable to accuse my friend of identity theft if there is an evidence that he used my ID to open an account), they claimed that they do not have it. Yet, they ensure me that their "internal review process" conclude that the account was opened under my name with a valid identity verification.

It has been more than a month since I tried to solve this issue. I believe I already used most of the avenues available to me and I am about to give up. However, the only thing that keep bothering me throughout the entire process is the argument that the burden of proof is on me. How is that possible? Can someone please explain why? May be I am missing something obvious here?

If that logic is correct, I can send everyone $10 bill claiming that he/she opened an account with me for some services and my internal review process confirms that the identity verification was done properly during the account opening phase. If he/she disagree, that burden of proof is on that person to show that he/she did not open an account with me? That does not sound right.

Thank you,
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#2
Did you ask Comcast for a copy of the contract where you signed on the dotted line?

There was installation service AT the home, correct? This means that someone allowed the tech into the apartment and someone signed for the equipment. Ask comcast to show you where you signed on the dotted line.

If they tell you that you authorized it over the phone, tell them "lets all listen to that call together"

There are also avenues where you can dispute the collection item, have you done that?

You can start by telling the collections agent "I never opened a Comcast account, please provide me with PROOF that I signed any contract agreeing to service.

Question - why isn't your room mate paying the bill ASAP? $37 is chump change as far as collections goes. The reason you haven't heard about it is because it's pennies. have your friend pay and you can 'repair' your own credit by spending a year making prompt payments.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

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#3
There is no way this was done "accidentally" - your friend had to have used your name to open the account. Did you ever call Comcast yourself and ask them to open an account at that address? Comcast could not pick your name out of thin air - someone gave it to them.
And he also purposely never told you - in essence, he stole your identity.

Get your friend to repay the money owed. This wasn't an accident.
 
Oct 26, 2015
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sas80 said:
Did you ask Comcast for a copy of the contract where you signed on the dotted line?
There was installation service AT the home, correct? This means that someone allowed the tech into the apartment and someone signed for the equipment. Ask comcast to show you where you signed on the dotted line.
I asked but they did not want to provide it.

sas80 said:
If they tell you that you authorized it over the phone, tell them "lets all listen to that call together"
They could not even tell me how the account was opened.

sas80 said:
There are also avenues where you can dispute the collection item, have you done that?
Yes, I did that. Thank you for the suggestion.

sas80 said:
You can start by telling the collections agent "I never opened a Comcast account, please provide me with PROOF that I signed any contract agreeing to service.

Question - why isn't your room mate paying the bill ASAP? $37 is chump change as far as collections goes. The reason you haven't heard about it is because it's pennies. have your friend pay and you can 'repair' your own credit by spending a year making prompt payments.
I actually already paid $37 bill (when I received the bill, the situation was not clear about what really happened so I paid it out of precaution). As you mentioned, the money is not the problem here.

Neil said:
There is no way this was done "accidentally" - your friend had to have used your name to open the account.
Although I agree with you that it does not sound plausible, I also don't see how my friend could fraudulently use my name to open an account, unless Comcast does not require any identity verification.

Neil said:
Did you ever call Comcast yourself and ask them to open an account at that address? Comcast could not pick your name out of thin air - someone gave it to them.
No, I never called Comcast myself to open an account at that address.

Neil said:
And he also purposely never told you - in essence, he stole your identity.
I know this sounds naive but I have known him for years. Without any evidence, I cannot believe that he intentionally stole my identity. Also, what would be his motive? He paid the bill for almost 3 years. So he went through all of this just for $37?

Neil said:
Get your friend to repay the money owed. This wasn't an accident.
He already apologized and paid me back (since I already paid the collection bill) the moment I figured out what actually happened and reached out to him. The issue at hand is how to remove the collection record from my account.
 
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Feb 9, 2016
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I'm unclear.... the bill is paid. Is the outstanding issue that you now have a hit on your credit report?

When you pursued having it removed from your credit report, what did you find out? I mean, the cable company cant prove you opened this account but you can prove you never lived at the address (via drivers license records, credit report records). You simply tell the collections agency that this is not your debt and they need to show you proof that it is your debt. In order for it to be put into collections there has to be proof it's your debt. What's that proof?
 
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I have a similar story, so I will share.

Back after I graduated, I moved in with a friend. Cable was in my name. At some point HE called the cable company and added on internet. Eventually he moved out and I was presented with a bill from the cable company that included internet. I called the cable company and very politely said "WTF?" and they said "well, "Fiends Name" called and added it on on xx/yy/zzzz date.

My response? "The account is in my name and I never authorized you or Friend to make changes on my behalf, please remove all charges associated with the service."

They did.

my point: it can happen, easily
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#7
For future reference, if the bill/situation has nothing to do with you, the correct response is "that isn't my debt" or "I didn't do that damage"

You must disassociate yourself with the event completely and consistently.
 
Likes: mmb and jsn55
Oct 26, 2015
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#8
sas80 said:
I'm unclear.... the bill is paid. Is the outstanding issue that you now have a hit on your credit report?
Yes

sas80 said:
When you pursued having it removed from your credit report, what did you find out? I mean, the cable company cant prove you opened this account but you can prove you never lived at the address (via drivers license records, credit report records). You simply tell the collections agency that this is not your debt and they need to show you proof that it is your debt. In order for it to be put into collections there has to be proof it's your debt. What's that proof?
That's exactly my point. I asked to see the proof and they have never provided it. They keep saying that their "proof" is the first bill that it was issued under my name (which does not make any senses, in my opinion).

By the way, I have never talked to the collection agency. When I saw the collection notice, I paid it (since it was only $37 and I no longer live in the US).

sas80 said:
I have a similar story, so I will share.

Back after I graduated, I moved in with a friend. Cable was in my name. At some point HE called the cable company and added on internet. Eventually he moved out and I was presented with a bill from the cable company that included internet. I called the cable company and very politely said "WTF?" and they said "well, "Fiends Name" called and added it on on xx/yy/zzzz date.

My response? "The account is in my name and I never authorized you or Friend to make changes on my behalf, please remove all charges associated with the service."

They did.

my point: it can happen, easily
Thank you for sharing your experience. It is slightly different than my case though.

1) In my case, it is about account opening. Are you saying that it is possible to open an account with Comcast without identity verification? If it is for adding/removing service, I think it is possible. For account opening, that would be very bad if Comcast allows it.

2) Comcast did not agree to do anything until I submit identity theft claim. That is the step I am not willing to do until I see some evidence that my friend really stole my identity.

sas80 said:
For future reference, if the bill/situation has nothing to do with you, the correct response is "that isn't my debt" or "I didn't do that damage"

You must disassociate yourself with the event completely and consistently.
The only way I can do that, according to Comcast, is to submit identity theft claim. That is the step I am not willing to do until I see some evidence that my friend really stole my identity.
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#9
I thought I was following this post, but now it's stated that you paid the bill already. Your 'friend' used your name to set up the account originally, he just doesn't want to admit that.

I think your issue is that you don't understand how the account got set up in your name. That's where the Identity Theft part comes in. He technically did steal your identity and opened the account in your name. I'm glad there's no huge bill to deal with but this is not a trustworthy friend. I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time and gets worked out between the parties, but using your name without your permission is just plain unethical, no matter what the reason.

If the bill did officially go to collections, you'll need to contact the credit report people to find out how to post your side of the story to avoid future credit problems.
 
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Likes: Neil Maley
Oct 26, 2015
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#10
I thought I was following this post, but now it's stated that you paid the bill already. Your 'friend' used your name to set up the account originally, he just doesn't want to admit that. But what now is the issue? How can we help you?
1) Could you please hypothesize on how my friend can originally used my name to open the account? I am 100% sure that he cannot access any of my IDs. Comcast also refuses to provide any document/evidence which shows that my name was used to open the account (the only thing they provided is the first billing statement, which has my name on it).

2) In terms of help, it would be great if you could help me getting Comcast to remove the collection record from my credit without me filing identity theft friend against my friend.
- Or -
If Comcast insists that this is identity theft, I would like to see one piece of evidence. In such a case, I will definitely file the identity theft claim when I return to the US later and go through the normal process.

3) More importantly, the reason I posted my story here is to seek explanations on Comcast's logic. I am still puzzled why Comcast can argue that the burden of proof is on me (to proof that I did not open the account) rather than them (to proof that it was me who opened the account). sas80 also raised this point above as well.
 

Neil Maley

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#11
In the US, we have to provide our Social Security numbers to have a credit check done in order to be able to have services turned on. Your friend had to do the same to open an account. I have never had to submit any other proof of who I am other than my name and Social to have services turned on.

You say you had your own Comcast account - what did you use when you opened your own Comcast account? Did you have to provide proof of identity? Your Social Security number (or equivalent) Is it possible your friend didn't have anything for a credit check to be run on him so he provided your information? If Comcast dinged your credit report, SOMEONE gave them your SS or whatever the equivalent is in your country to open the account. They could not have pulled your name out of thin air. Your friend admitted he left the account in your name - he is the only one who knows how it got in your name.

Your identity WAS stolen regardless of how you feel about your friend - when someone opens an account in your name with your social security number - it is identity theft. All he had to do to get the account name changed was tell them to close it in your name and re-open it in his. It is done all the time when people move. There has to be a reason he did this - you really need to ask him. It may have been innocent and he thought no harm would be done because he paid the bill - but harm was done when he moved without leaving an address for the final bill and you are the one left holding the bag I am sorry to say.

You can write to the credit reporting bureau and state that it was not your debit - but the fact is the account was in your name.
 
Likes: mmb
Oct 26, 2015
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#12
Neil said:
In the US, we have to provide our Social Security numbers to have a credit check done in order to be able to have services turned on. Your friend had to do the same to open an account.
My social security was not used (no soft/hard inquiry) by Comcast in 2014. I know this because I was building credit back then so I checked my credit report every month. I still have saved credit report from 2014 and double-checked that there was no Comcast related activity back then

Neil said:
What did you use when you opened your own Comcast account?
When I opened my own Comcast account in 2012, it was slightly different because I did not have social security number at that time so I had to go to Comcast service center and showed my passport.

Neil said:
Is it possible your friend didn't have anything for a credit check to be run on him so he provided your information?
He lived in the US long before me (since 2009 or so) so that should not be the problem. Also, I am quite sure that he did not know my social security number.

Neil said:
If Comcast dinged your credit report, SOMEONE gave them your SS or whatever the equivalent is in your country to open the account. They could not have pulled your name out of thin air. Your friend admitted he left the account in your name - he is the only one who knows how it got in your name.
There was no Comcast-related activity on my credit report around the time the account was opened.

Neil said:
Your identity WAS stolen regardless of what you think - when someone opens an account in your name with your social security number - it is identity theft.
That's exactly my point. If Comcast can show me that the account was opened with my social security number, I will, without any doubt, admit that this is identity theft and do not hesitate to file the identity theft claim. However, so far, I did not see any evidence that it was the case.
 
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#14
Have you gone to our company contacts on top of our page and started a letter writing campaign?
I emailed both of the execs on the "primary contact" from http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/comcast/ and found that my complaint ends up at the same place (the regional executive office). The last rep I spoke to even said that if I email other execs or try other channels (BBB, attorney general office, etc.), everything will come to her office and the response will always be the same (that I have to file an identity theft claim to resolve this issue, and that Comcast is not willing to provide any document/evidence that the account was really opened under my name).
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#15
My social security was not used (no soft/hard inquiry) by Comcast in 2014. I know this because I was building credit back then so I checked my credit report every month. I still have saved credit report from 2014 and double-checked that there was no Comcast related activity back then



When I opened my own Comcast account in 2012, it was slightly different because I did not have social security number at that time so I had to go to Comcast service center and showed my passport.



He lived in the US long before me (since 2009 or so) so that should not be the problem. Also, I am quite sure that he did not know my social security number.



There was no Comcast-related activity on my credit report around the time the account was opened.



That's exactly my point. If Comcast can show me that the account was opened with my social security number, I will, without any doubt, admit that this is identity theft and do not hesitate to file the identity theft claim. However, so far, I did not see any evidence that it was the case.
I can absolutely understand the frustration here. It is awful that ComCast cannot furnish you with a copy of the agreement opening the account. Even if the entire transaction was completed online, something must exist in their records. I suspect that they are refusing to act because they are worried about the ID theft issue ... they may have been willing to mail you something to the address of record, but now they're just going to do nothing. This is horrible.
 
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Oct 26, 2015
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#16
I can absolutely understand the frustration here. It is beyond belief that ComCast cannot furnish you with a copy of the agreement opening the account. Even if the entire transaction was completed online, something must exist in their records, they just can't be bothered to go find it. I know they don't have much customer service, but someone should be able to get you the information you need. This thread is now so long that I'll just ask you directly: have we given you instructions on how to contact them via email? It may take a bit of time but someone should be able to look this up for you.
Apart of several regular customer service channels available, I emailed both of the execs on the "primary contact" from http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/comcast/ and found that my complaint ends up at the same place (the regional executive office). The last rep I spoke to even said that if I email other execs or try other channels (BBB, attorney general office, etc.), everything will come to her office and the response will always be the same (that I have to file an identity theft claim to resolve this issue, and that Comcast is not willing to provide any document/evidence that the account was really opened under my name).
 
Oct 26, 2015
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#18
You might want to try to file a complaint with the Public Service Commission in the State you resided in.

Use this map and click on your state - it will give you the address of who to file a complaint with:

https://www.naruc.org/about-naruc/regulatory-commissions/
The last rep I spoke to specifically mentioned that if I involves an external agency (she did not mentioned PSC, but mentioned office of attorney general and FTC), everything will come to her office and the response will always be the same (that I have to file an identity theft claim to resolve this issue, and that Comcast is not willing to provide any document/evidence that the account was really opened under my name).
 
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#20
That person is trying to threaten you to drop the claim.
Normally, I would think so. However, this is the 3rd time that my complaint (to different channels) went straight to her office so her statement becomes quite credible.

That being said, her statement is the reason I posted this story here. Specifically to see if I was missing anything about their logic (regarding the burden of proof).