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Customers using fake names on contract

May 27, 2024
Customers using fake names on contract 
      We do a lot of integrations for dealers and monitoring stations for IoT devices.  End-users typically buy the devices online and sign up for monitoring on the internet without speaking to any company representative.  Included in the signup process is the legal contractual language provided, hopefully from you.
     The problem is that often the subscriber will use a fictitious name on the agreement part of the document.  We do capture the IP address and location information as part of the process.  But there is concern that because of the fictitious name and possible address, the contract is not valid and the dealer is open to liability claims.  The process also does capture payment information which is validated, but the payer may not be the actual user.
     Do you offer any means that companies can protect their company?
Mark S. Fischer
            Unfortunately “fake” names are used on alarm contracts all too frequently.  This happens when the subscriber’s name is abbreviated, condensed or a trade name rather than legal name is used.  Try suing Joe’s Furniture Store, and try collecting if you do get a judgement, if the name of the entity you should sued is JFS Mystery Corp.  At the very least you’ll have a lot of explaining to do as you navigate through the court system and then seek enforcement through the Sheriff. 
            Individuals can also use alias, assumed names or as you put it, fictitious or fake names.   
            Technically someone signing using a fake name would then be personally liable on the contract, though you still have to identify the person who signed.  This issue is more likely to arise when the alarm company seeking to enforce the contract sues on the contract; it will need to figure out the proper party, which may be difficult or impossible.
            But a person seeking to sue the alarm company, and I think that is what you are most concerned about – the alarm company’s liability exposure- presents different issues because the party suing the alarm company would need to either claim they were the person who signed the contract using a fake name, in which event the person would be bound by the contract, or will have to explain why that person is seeking to enforce a contract that wasn’t signed or authorized to be signed by that person. A person claiming a right under the contract who also claims not having signed that contract would have somewhat contradictory positions. 
            If Jack Jones makes an on-line purchase, claims to be Jack Jones and uses Jack Jones’ credit card, either that person is Jack Jones, known perhaps by another name, or is going to be liable on the contract, though the real Jack Jones would not be liable, and would also not likely be making claims against the alarm company for any benefit under the contract.
            The bottom line is, be careful, know who you are doing business with and try and get some specify identifying information so the person can be identified.  Requiring a copy of a driver’s license or other government issued ID would also be helpful.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301