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
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