Discover Card's identity theft game

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Sep 26, 2006, 9:19:19 PM9/26/06
dirtbags, air sickness bags -- hell, anything bad ending in "bags."

I would highly advise you to read this here:
since the web page is better looking and contains some graphics with
captions that I like. But if you don't want to click, here's the text:


This is a wordy page, and with my attention span there's no way I'd
read it all the way through. But I wish you would, and think you
should. I'll try to add some clip art for you to roll the mouse over,
to break it up a bit. But the summary of the Cliffs notes version is

Discover Card doesn't make any real effort to verify ID before handing
out cards, then hides from and lies to the identity theft victims that
result, absolutely refusing to fix the mess. Beware the slimey

And if you've also been a victim of Discover Financial Services, please
send me your story so that I can add it to this page. I'd also like to
start forming a collection of take-no-prisoners tactics people can use
when they find themselves in situations like this. And if you've worked
as a DFS "dispute investigator," I couldn't resist reading about that,
either. And if you wouldn't mind linking to this page, I'd be eternally

My former girlfriend lived with me from 1998 until 2003. In late 2000
she started to use my identity to steal from me. It was fairly easy for
her to do so, since a lot of it could be done via the Internet, since
she always was the one to collect the mail, and since I was a bit too
trusting. I didn't find out about it until 2003, when she left the
state one step ahead of the law for getting credit cards in the name of
my sister, who wasn't as trusting. In the end she took all my money and
more, leaving me in deep debt and deep depression. It's been a lot of
work, but I've mostly got my credit straightened out. Trust is another
matter, but that's my problem and not yours, so let's blast forward.

The Discover Card which she opened in 2000 in my name is the main
exception, and the company is acting despicably about it. I did what I
was supposed to do: send a letter containing an explanation, a copy of
the police report, an affidavit of fraud, and a copy of my driver's
license, to the address on my credit report. In the letter I also asked
for the account documents that are due me by law. No response. I sent
another letter. No response again. After much more calling around than
one would expect to have to do, I finally got two addresses to try, one
of which, eventually, responded. (Discover Financial Services is
clearly a company in hiding from identity theft victims. The letters
they send have no phone number at which they can be contacted, and
either have no signature at all or just a last name and first initial,
with other initials alongside. No building address either, of course,
and when I would locate the building by other means and call the
associated number, the person picking up would just say "security" and
refuse to put the call through.) They said they had "investigated" the
situation, found me responsible for the debt, and had sold the account
to another company. Their mantra is that it's not their problem and to
bother the other company instead.

It is simply impossible for them to have done a credible investigation,
because I had never in my life had any contact at all with them. None.
I have demanded that they either provide some proof that I am
responsible or send me a letter agreeing that the debt isn't mine and
then clear up things with the credit reporting agencies (CRAs):
Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. They refuse to do either, and they
refuse to provide me with any of the documents I seek, such as the
initial application or a list of the charges on the card. The federal
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives me the legal right to this.

They lie about it, as well: Dispute Investigator T. Fouch (I tricked
the phone answerer into confirming that her full name is Tracey Fouch
-- P.O. Box 8003, Hilliard, OH 43026-8003) wrote "the account opened in
2000 and the application is no longer available." I call that the "my
dog ate it" excuse, because I am quite certain there never was an
application, as the other accounts the thief opened were opened via
computer, using basic information she knew about me. Also, what
company would just throw an application out -- not even keeping an
electronic record in these days of super-cheap computer memory -- when
the account is claimed to still be collectable and the application
would be the only proof of who was responsible for it? That lie is
simply insulting. Also insulting are the two teeny bits of
"documentation" she did send: (1) A copy of the cardmember agreement,
which of course has zero relevance to someone who never entered into
the agreement. (2) Two copies of small checks sent to their bank early
on. True, they came from my checking account. But they contained no
signatures and were generated automatically from online, by someone
with online access to the account, i.e., the ex-girlfriend. I never
used the online features, even once, and didn't know they existed.
Besides, even if I HAD written the checks, so what?? Couples --
especially couples living together -- frequently make payments for each
other when asked, without an interrogation taking place. It's
ridiculous to claim that making a couple of payments for someone means
the debt changes hands.

What is really funny (or rather would be if it weren't happening to me)
is that lying Dispute Investigator A. Scott (P.O. Box 3025 New Albany,
OH 43054-3025 - Seems strange to me that datebase research shows that
the DFS company at that location employs only 1-4 people [which I'm
guessing means just A. Scott], and that the number 614-777-7000 - the
same number as for Tracey's PO Box, located on the opposite side of
Columbus -- has been recently disconnected, and that the larger New
Albany office tells me that out of 2500 or so people there are 8 or 9
"A. Scotts," none of them working in New Albany) refers to those two
bits of nonsense "documentation" this way: "Detail was sent to you
under separate cover to substantiate the validity of the account and
balance." It takes a lot of chutzpah to write that.

So that's where things stand. They refuse to do a serious
investigation (e.g., talk to the police who took the report, try to
talk to the thieving ex (who, by the way, has a criminal record, while
my record is as clean as bleached bleach, without as much as a parking
ticket in my life), check out some of the charges -- surely somewhere
in the $14k they say I owe is a charge that has an associated
signature). And they refuse to give me the information I have the right
to, such as a statement of charges on an account they claim I'm
responsible for, charges that I've never once seen, so that I can do a
proper investigation on my own. I've even offered to take a polygraph
test if they pay for it. They simply don't want the truth to come out,
because they know they'll then be stuck with the entire balance.

In the last letter they wrote: "Unless you provide new documentation to
substantiate your claim, the account and balance will remain valid."
Now, I'm no legal scholar, but doesn't the law work the other way -
don't they, not I, have to provide documentation of their claim, or
else INvalidate the account and balance? Surely I can't legally go up
to someone on the street, claim they owe me money, and demand that they
either prove they don't or pay up.

You know, a whole lot of identity theft could be prevented if people
simply had to go to a bank, show photo ID, and sign their name before
getting a credit card. That'll happen the day they start growing clocks
on wind farms.

Finally, if anyone knows the home or cell number of David Nelms,
Discover Financial service's CEO based in Deerfield, IL, please pass it
on to me. I'd love to have a chat with the gentleman.

Jonathan Kamens

Sep 26, 2006, 11:50:56 PM9/26/06
I assume that you have disputed Discover's entries on your credit

I assume that, since presumably Discover refuses to remove the entries
from your report despite your dispute, you have attached an
explanatory statement to your credit reports?

Have you been contacted regarding this debt by a collection agency? I
assume that you have instructed them not to contact you again, after
which they are legally prohibited from contacting you (all they can do
is file a lawsuit against you if they think they can win in court)?

If your credit score is good enough to get by, even with the Discover
crap on your reports, you should simply hold on to every shred of
documentation you have about this, and do nothing else until/unless
someone sues you to collect the bogus Discover debt. At that time,
you'll have the opportunity not only to defend yourself in court, but
also to file a countersuit for slander of credit and violation of the

If the Discover crap on your credit reports is actually damaging your
credit rating enough to make your life difficult, you may wish to
consider filing a lawsuit against Discover now rather than waiting for
them to sue you first. Of course, for that you'll need to pay a lawyer.

If Discover is telling the truth when they tell you that they've sold
the debt to another company, then they're right that they can't
discharge the debt at this point, since they no longer own it, but
they're wrong if they're claiming that they can't remove damaging
information that they put on your credit report. Therefore, you may
need to deal with the two issues separately -- with Discover to get
your credit report fixed, and with whatever company they sold the debt
to, to get it discharged. I would imagine that Discover is legally
obligated to tell you to whom they sold the debt, although as you've
pointed out, they're not exactly all that good at fulfilling their
legal obligations, and besides that, you probably shouldn't bother to
contact the company that owns the debt until they contact you.

If you haven't already, you may wish to (a) file a complaint against
Discover with the Better Business Bureau where their corporate HQ is
located; (b) file a complaint with your state's Attorney General and
the Attorney general in the state where Discover's HQ is located; (c)
file a complaint about FCRA violations with the FTC; and/or (d) ask for
help from the consumer advocates at your local television stations,
newspapers and/or radio stations.

You may also wish to print out a copy of your Web page and mail it to
the CEO's office.

You may also wish to see if you can get a short, calm summary of your
experience published in the RISKS Digest
<>. If you get it published there, and
you include a link to your full article in the summary that is
published, it'll drive up the search ranking of your page, since RISKS
is archived all over the place on the Web, and not only that, but it's
possible someone who reads RISK will be able to help you reach someone
at Discover who can do something about your problem. Another way you
can drive up the search ranking for your site is to find other sites
on the Web that host complaints about Discover and post comments on
those sites with links to yours. The folks who matter at Discover
will pay more attention to the trouble you're making for them if your
page has a good search ranking.

Help stop the genocide in Darfur!

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