Rogers' fraud program

When the story broke in the Globe and Mail about Ted Rogers' cell phone having been cloned by a group linked to Hezbollah, Rogers (both the man and the corporation) made concerted efforts to contact me ASAP to apologize for imputing to me over $14,000 worth of charges made on my stolen cell phone. My bill was swiftly thereafter zero'd as though the charges had never existed.

I had been actively and exhaustingly disputing those charges from August 27, 2005 until the day that the Globe covered the story on December 17, 2005. Until the national media got involved, Rogers had been actively disputing the charges right back.

Many people wondered why, from the outset, Rogers didn't follow the lead of the credit card industry and take prophylactic measures, or at a minimum zero the bill, if it could be determined that the account holder had not incurred the charges. Cindy Hopper, manager of Rogers' law enforcement support, fraud and security had made clear in her comments to Harry Gefen in September of 2005 that Rogers has had a computer program capable of detecting atypical usage since 1997 - and the usage on my account was spectacularly atypical. She had also indicated that Rogers has a fraud protocol by which Rogers is supposed to call the consumer and query them about whether they are responsible for the unusual pattern; and a protocol to suspend services if the consumer can't be reached...

...just like the credit card companies.

If Rogers has the technology and protocols to stymie fraudulent misuse, what was preventing the corporation from using these mechanisms and saving the consumer untold sums that would otherwise flow out of their pockets and into Rogers'?...untold sums generated through fraudulently misuse of services? Was there a deficiency in the mechanisms Rogers had at its disposal? Were there still kinks to be worked out of the computer programs and protocols for contacting consumers?

One of the virtues of a trial (as opposed to a settlement or an arbitration) is that these kinds of questions can be placed openly, in open court, for all to hear. And the response, thereafter, is on the record.

I called Paul Harris, the head of Rogers' fraud department, to testify at the trial. I had succeeded on a January, 2007 motion in getting a judge to order Rogers to produce documentation detailing the wireless corporation's fraud programs and protocols since 1997. I filed with the court the document that Rogers produced on January 25, 2007. It now forms part of the court record and was referred to during the trial. This document reveals in detail the scope of the technology at Rogers' disposal to help consumers avoid paying Rogers untold sums for fraudulently made phone calls.

I queried Paul Harris about these procedures. He stated that while Rogers has had the technology to protect the consumer from fraud for over a decade, until my case Rogers never used its technology for that purpose. Rogers' fraud department existed to protect Rogers from fraud, not to protect the Rogers consumer from fraud.

All of that changed, according to Paul Harris, AFTER my case (or rather, after the media broadcast my case).

This was a convenient change of practice for the litigation in which we were engaged: one of my arguments had been that Rogers owed me a duty of care to notify me of fraudulent misuse, and in the event that I couldn't be reached, to shut my cell phone off. From Rogers' breach of this duty of care flowed all of the damages, including those linked to my son's cell phone. If Rogers only changed its standard of care AFTER my case came to its attention, then it would be that much harder to argue that it owed me, in particular, a duty of care....To all subsequent subscribers, perhaps, but not to me.

Paul Harris confirmed, for the record, that what had happened to me (or more aptly - the media coverage of what happened to me) was a pivotal moment in compelling Rogers to change its policies so that thereafter, Rogers' fraud department also exists to protect Rogers subscribers from fraudulent misuse of wireless services. After my story broke in the Globe and Mail in December of 2005, I should be the last subscriber to have to fight so hard for common sense to prevail over the profit motive.

Rogers now treats consumers just like the credit card companies do, Paul Harris boasted a little. Rogers is "leading the pack", nicely alluding to the breed.