Joyce is an Indigenous consumer in Queensland, who has been deaf since she was a young child. She is currently on a Disability Support Pension and requires an interpreter. She is supported by her case worker Brad, who works at a community services organisation.
Joyce had been contacted by a credit agency engaged by a telco provider. The credit agency claimed that Joyce owed a total of $2,149 on two accounts - a mobile phone service and a wireless internet service. One account had been set up in Joyce’s maiden name and one in her married name. Joyce denied setting up these accounts and said that identity theft had occurred.
Brad contacted the provider on Joyce’s behalf, and was advised to report the fraudulent accounts to the police and provide a statutory declaration before the provider would consider the complaint. Brad had provided medical evidence and supporting documentation on Joyce’s behalf to prove that she had not used the mobile and internet services, but the telco had not accepted this information.
What we did
Joyce complained to the TIO, and asked that all charges be waived, and any default listings be removed. We worked with Brad to obtain Joyce’s third party authorisation form, statutory declaration and proof of identification documents.
We then contacted the provider, who agreed to investigate the identity theft claim. The investigation found that Joyce’s daughter had taken out the contracts several years ago. The provider’s view was that Joyce would still need to pay the debt or report the fraud to police. Culturally, Joyce was not comfortable with reporting a family member to the police.
Given the lack of agreement, the TIO conciliated the case.
During our conciliation, the provider’s fraud team investigated further and found that proper identity checks were not carried out before the two telephone accounts were set up. As a result, Joyce was not liable for the charges. The provider cleared the entire debt and removed the default listings that had been placed on Joyce’s credit file. Brad agreed to the outcome on Joyce’s behalf, and Joyce expressed relief that the case had been resolved.