Regulatory capture happens when an industry regulator falls under the influence of those that they are supposed to regulate. That would seem to have happened in the case of Australia’s telephone regulator — the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). I have found that out from my personal experience. The TIO seems to believe anything that service providers in the industry tell it.

What happened was that scammers somehow accessed my Vodafone cellphone account and rang up a lot of text-message charges against me. When I eventually realized what was happening and protested vigorously about it to Vodafone, they eventually refunded me the disputed charges. Before doing so however, they forwarded me an absurd email from the scammers which said that only I could have incurred the charges. Vodafone apparently accepted that bit of fantasy as correct so gave me an “ex gratia” refund only.

I was outraged at this slight on my good name and character and asked Vodafone for more details that would allow me to track down who exactly had been misusing my account. Vodafone refused to tell me anything further, however. They would not even tell me whether the charges were for messages that I had supposedly sent or for messages that I had supposedly received. Since I haven’t even figured out HOW to send text messages on my current phone, that was a very relevant detail.

So I protested to the TIO about this stonewalling from Vodafone — and also protested that the scammers had not apparently been in any way restricted and were free to carry on defrauding others.

I have received today a letter from TIO reviews officer Olivia Munro which just rubs salt into the wound. They have refused to do anything about my complaint and they too appear to have accepted without investigation that the fantasy letter concocted by the scammers was true, correct and factual. Australia’s major banks lose big money to scammers but that the little guy might be similarly affected seems not to have occurred to the useless TIO. My only recourse now is to take the matter to court and I have not yet made my mind up about that.

So DON’T rely on your government to protect you. Insist that all bills are mailed to you in paper form so that you can examine them carefully and refer to them in the future. And DON’T authorize anybody to take money out of your bank account directly in settlement of what you owe. Pay all your bills yourself rather than authorizing automatic deductions from your account. You may never see your money again otherwise.

(For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)

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