According to this article in fineextra.com, the Bank of Queensland apparently issued a credit card with a limit of $4,200 (in Australian currency) to “Messiah,” a white-and-gray tabby belonging to Katherine Campbell of Melbourne.
The bank blames Campbell for fraudulently requesting the card as a “secondary card” for her account. But Campbell says that anybody could have applied for the card, and that the bank never attempted to make sure that the request was legitimate. Nor did the bank tell Campbell that a secondary card had been issued.
I have been convinced for a long time that one of the primary contributors to the rash of identity theft affecting our society is that banks are not held liable for the consequences of their actions. To banks, the main cost of identity theft is the loss of consumer confidence–but the majority of costs are borne by the victims. (Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until recently that identity-theft victims were considered “victims” at all: for years the law considered the credit lenders to be the victims of identity theft, since they were the ones that had lost the money.)
Identity theft is not a recent criminal innovation. I wrote my first article about it, calling it “credit fraud,” back in 1989. But now, looking back on the work I did in 1988 about tenant screening services, it’s clear that some of those false matches would be considered identity theft as well.