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I'm in a dispute with Orange at the moment, which has been going on for 10 months. I've sent three letters and got no reply at all!


Basically my 'friend' ran up a bill in my name and changed my home address to her house, telephone number, password and security questions. She then added a second handset when they blocked the first one for her not paying the bills and continued running up a bill on the new one. Orange didn't contact me for permission (even though they're claiming I'm still the account holder and am liable). Because my home address has been changed if they had sent me letters I wasn't getting them.


Since then it has been referred to a debt collection agency and the total now stands at £1470, from the original £450. This girl used to work at Orange so knows the system inside out. I don't know what to do about this, I've requested a System Access Request so hopefully the recorded phone calls to them will prove it wasn't me adding that handset and changing the address.


Is there anything else I can do, anything I'm missing? If anyone has been in this situation please let me know how it was resolved, I really don't think it's fair I have to pay this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Regarding the first handset. How did your friend change the account address? Had she been granted third party access by you with her own password or did she call customer services posing as you? If the latter did she know your password?


If she didn't have her own third party access and didn't know your password then a verbal security check would have been completed. If the questions (such as date of birth etc) had been answered correctly and the agent was satisfied he/she was speaking to you then the caller would be granted access and asked to set up a new password.


If you have compromised your account's security by divulging your password then you're unlikely to have the funds written off unless they take pity on you. If, however, it can be established that your friend posed as you then it should be refunded as this is essentially a failure of Orange's security procedures and a breach of the Data Protection Act. This is the best line to follow.


Regarding the second handset. Was this bought directly from Orange via their website or by phone, or through a third party dealer? If a third party dealer was it at a store or over the phone? If bought in a store rather than by phone/mail order then the buyer must provide proofs of identity at point of sale. Did your friend have these (such as a utility bill, driving licence etc)?


If this issue is already under investigation then it should not have been referred to an external debt collection agency. It sounds like the complaint isn't being taken too seriously.


Please answer the above questions and I may be able to assist further.


Once you're armed with all relevant information I would suggest the following steps:


1. Escalate the issue as high as you can go to the Executive Office. The Orange escalation procedure works as follows - CSR > Team Leader/CSM > Ops Manager > Executive Office. You have to be escalated to one level of seniority at a time. If you're not satisfied with the response from one level ask to escalate again until you get to the Exec Office. I would expect the issue to be resolved before it is necessary to escalate to Exec Office. Another route to the Executive Office which avoids the escalation procedure is to lodge the complaint with Ofcom. They in turn will provide you with a reference number and forward it to Orange's Exec Office for resolution. Mobile providers are targeted under Ofcom rules and this will ensure your complaint is taken seriously.


2. Insist they immediately call off the external debt collection agency.


3. At some point it may be suggested they "meet you halfway" and offer to refund half of the charges. If this is purely a failure of Orange's security procedures, or out and out fraud, then it should all be refunded. You are not at fault and are not liable. If, however, you have compromised your account's security (see above) then this would be a fair outcome as Orange are under no obligation to refund any of it.


4. Once resolved you need the debt history removed from your credit file. This must be done by submitting a written request to Orange's Credit Referrals department. They will provide you with the address. Ensure they notepad your account confirming your are not liable for the charges.


Hope this helps.

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Wow, that's a great reply thank you. They're definitely not taking it seriously, they're taking their time getting anything resolved so more charges get added on. I'll make sure to involve Ofcom, is there anything specific I can say to Orange about Ofcom? I was going to go to Watchdog too, because no company likes bad publicity.


In answer to your questions - I transferred the account into her name, or so I was told by the Orange operator, and she was paying the bills. I was told the second handset was apparently added by 'credit referral'? I'm not sure what this means; I don't understand how she could've possibly used my credit with Orange as a backing to add another handset if she wasn't pretending to be me - which is surely fraudulent activity?


They say I confirmed the addition of a second handset using credit referral too, but I definitely did not allow it. I had no idea it had happened until they rang telling me the amount she had got the bill to. If this was the case then she must've pretended to be me when she called to add the handset - I never gave her my password, but she used to work for Orange so is it possible she knew the system and knew how to get round 'forgetting' a password and the questions? The only other option is that she knew the person on the other end of the phone from being a colleague and they just did it for her...


I have the e-mail address of the executive office for Orange and have requested a System Access Request to get all information and notes on my account, so I can take this to a solicitor and hopefully get somewhere.


The account's security was definitely compromised and it's Orange's fault for allowing a third party (as they're claiming she was) to add a handset without the account holder's permission. If they somehow do have evidence that I gave permission it certainly didn't come from me, which is fraud. I don't see how they can still be claiming I'm liable! I think they just want anyone to pay it, however they get the money.

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It sounds like the account is still in your name as you're being held liable for the charges for both handsets, but it's possible it was eventually transferred to her name and you're being held personally liable for charges prior to the transfer. Or she may have been paying the bills but the account remained in your name.


Regarding Credit Referrals - when an application is made for a new or additional handset it is sometimes referred to this department for review. They will conduct a more indepth credit check and sometimes call the account holder on a verified number (usually the existing mobile or a 118-verified landline number) to check the application is genuine. If the account was still in your name, and they called the first mobile number, then they would have assumed they were speaking to you, so this was probably how she got away with it. Again, a failure of Orange procedure.


You're wasting your time contacting Watchdog or even threatening to do so. It won't have any effect. They've heard it all before.


You really need a more detailed breakdown of what's happened. If it was transferred to her name find out when. I know how the system works but it's difficult to piece this one together without all the relevant information.


The upshot is:


- If she accessed your account posing as you it is fraud and you shouldn't be liable for the second handset.

- If the costs were incurred while the handsets were in her name you are not liable.

- If she had access to your account to change the address she can also pose as you when applying for a second handset and when she spoke to Credit Referrals.


Orange may have the opinion that, regardless of your friend unlawfully accessing your account, you still allowed the use of the first handset when the account was in your name, therefore you should be liable. Please update when you have more information. Good luck.

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