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Fit to be tied over internet freeloading neighbor

When in doubt, Ask Ant!

DEAR ANT:  A few months ago I began to notice my internet connection was significantly slower than it had been. I called my service provider to trouble shoot the problem, but there seemed to be nothing wrong with the line or my equipment. Come to find out, one of my neighbors cancelled his internet service and, even though I have a secure network, he has been getting online by freeloading off my connection. I suspect my neighbor was able to figure out my password because prior to cancelling his service, he used the same internet provider as me. Apparently this provider uses the same formula for assigning passwords (first initial and last name plus zip code).

This guy works from home and is online constantly so it really dilutes my signal and slows down my connection. I found out because he bragged about it to several other neighbors and even suggested they do the same thing! It seems harmless, but really bothers me. I want to say something, but hate confrontations. What should I do? FIT TO BE TIED OVER FREELOADING NEIGHBOR

DEAR FIT TO BE TIED: THE NERVE OF THIS GUY. How is it possible that the line between right and wrong is so blurred for some people? Harmless? There’s nothing harmless about what your neighbor is doing. Not only is he grossly violating your privacy, he is STELAING FROM YOU. Of course it bothers you. It bothers me. 

What should you do? Immediately call your internet service provider and request to change your network password. Choose a strong password, something that makes sense only to you. There is a good chance you will be asked why you want to change your password. Be candid. Explain that you suspect someone is freeloading off your network connection and you’d like to put a stop to it.  Disclosing this information will likely give rise to an investigation resulting in criminal charges being filed against your neighbor, but that’s not your problem.

Alternately, you can email your neighbor a link to this column with a cheerful note: I thought you might find this interesting… Of course, you’ll need to do it before you change your network password.

Good luck and keep me posted. ANT

Need advice? Ask Ant! Click Email the author or send your questions to askantadvice@gmail.com.

Antoinette Datoc January 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Robert, Thanks for your comment. I think I may do a little research into disabling and replacing ISP provided routers. That seems like the most secure (pardon the pun) route to take. Ant
Skiime January 10, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Why would you not just change the password on your wireless router? Problem solved.
Robert Meyers January 10, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Ant, as Amy suggested that's a really great route to go. ISP based setups usually have less options and over even a short period of time will run you more than a cheap model would have cost you. Good luck in your research. Skiime, ISPs will occasionally lock down "features" -- even things as basic as password changing.
Mike January 10, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Got be be careful with those passwords. It astounds me the people that have their names, etc as a network name or something graphic lol
Skiime January 11, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I can't imagine an ISP not giving the user the password and ability to change their router settings. Not saying you're wrong Robert, I've just never had that problem with the four different ISP's I've had over the years. Personally, if the ISP won't allow me to change something as simple as a password, I'd look for another provider.

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