This morning, my mother was in the process of paying her bills when she noticed an extra $50 tacked on to her home-line phone bill. The phone company told her to contact Johns Hopkins Hospital, where the billed calls had been charged to her number. When she contacted the hospital, she was told that someone claiming to be a family member had charged calls to her number while staying there recently.
A family member? Who in the family had been in the hospital? No one we knew of, and we have a pretty tight knit family. Something happens and everyone knows about it within an hour. Even so, how was someone other than her or my father allowed to use that number for billing purposes?
If it really was a family member, it was someone with my mother’s maiden name, under which she is listed in the phone book. We have a suspect in mind, but no other evidence at this time because the hospital refused to give the name of the person falsely using my mom’s phone number.
I was shocked. One, how is this legal — letting people charge calls against any number they choose? Two, how are we supposed to stop fraud like this if we don’t have a name to press charges against?
Even though they agreed to remove the bill, I frown upon Johns Hopkins Hospital for their initial failure to protect my mother’s credit. There should be a better method of charging someone’s calls — not using a phone number that could belong to anyone. How about insisting on a charge card with proper ID?
How many other people have had this happen? How many of them actually caught on to the problem? How many other crooks will continue to use this to avoid paying out of their own pocket?!