TENANT CONNECTS PHONE IN 10-YEAR OLD’S NAME
PA…Identity theft suspect used identifying information of a 5-year-old child…to open telephone and Internet service…incurring a bill of $941/32. After suspect was identified by state police, victims declined to prosecute.1
The report reminded me of former tenants (I’ll call them Phil and Rose) who rented the efficiency apartment in the basement of our home, which was also rented out. We lived an hour away due to my husband’s work.
We also owned a four-apartment building down the hill from the house.
Almost immediately after they moved in we received complaints about the couple from renters in the house and tenants in the apartment building. Allegedly, the husband had beat the wife, and she ran screaming down the hill to the apartment building and left bloody handprints on the wall of the inside corridor.
The violence disrupted the lives of the house tenant. One of them stayed up all night because they had heard threats of arson during the couple’s fighting.
“I’ll burn this house down like we did the last one.”
After checking with a local fireman I determined that this was no empty threat: the house across the street from the fire department had experienced a fire while Phil and Rose were living there. Although there was insufficient proof to prosecute, the fire department members believed the couple had set the fire.
Monte and I decided gave Phil and Rose notice to move.
Returning to the property one warm sunny day I went to see the couple while my husband talked with an apartment tenant I’ll call Sue.
I knocked on the open screen door. Rose answered. I saw the husband sitting on the couch in the background.
“How is your apartment hunting coming?” I asked.
Tears began flowing down her cheeks.
“We haven’t found anything,” she said. “And now I’m pregnant.”
Ouch, I thought to myself, controlling my facial expression. I knew families with children and pregnancies were difficult to evict.
Still, I stared her in the face and said “We still want you out. Your thirty days is coming to an end, and we want you out asap.”
I turned and went down the hill to report to my husband and Sue. When I reached them I let out an expletive that I don’t normally use. Sue began to laugh, which took me off guard.
“She can’t be pregnant,” Sue said. “She had her tubes tied when her daughter was born.”
Phil and Rose moved a few days later. Phil was arrested—not for beating his wife, but for breaking probation by drinking. Rose was offered housing by a sympathetic woman down the road. (I heard that when the woman asked her to leave, Rose broke most of the windows in her house.)
Another couple rented the apartment and wanted to connect their phone service. In doing so they discovered Rose never disconnected her phone service, so I contacted the telephone company and explained the situation, asking them to cut it.
“We can’t do that unless they contact us. You’ll have to ask them to call us,” said the woman named Janet.
“I don’t know where they are,” I said, “and even if I did I don’t want any contact with them. But we can come to your office with all the paperwork.”
We argued back and forth. I had no intentions of locating Rose or Phil, and the phone company rep refused to cut off their service even with our documentation.
“I’ve notified you,” I finally said. “A new family is moving in. If they cannot connect phone service because you refuse to disconnect the current service then I assume and expect that any resulting unpaid bills will fall on your shoulders, that you will cover them.”
Suddenly I recalled something Sue had mentioned, that the phone service was installed in the name of Phil and Rose’s daughter.
“What’s her name?”
Janet looked up the records.
“Are you certain that Callie is ten?”
At that point she agreed to cut Phil and Rose’s service, and the problem was solved.
It seems surprising to me that, with proper documentation, the phone company was reluctant to cut the phone service. After all, Phil and Rose no longer lived at the stated address.
It also seems surprising to me that a child’s data can be used to connect phone service. After all, this is the information age.
What explanation can you offer?
1Tribune-Review, 121028, pp C2