Subpoena YOUR OWN call history

You wouldn’t think, but it’s true – To follow-up on my lost/stolen cellphone story… so, when you buy something with your credit or debit card, in most scenarios you can (within a couple hours usually) verify the transaction by logging into your banking account via the Internet. Sometimes it may come up as a ‘pending’ transaction, but nonetheless it’s still there. The marvels of technology and the Internet. But… did you ever think for a minute that you could possibly do the same thing for your phone call activity? WOW – wouldn’t you be wrong!!!

Since Monday morning I’ve been trying to get a __report of the call activity from my own phone__ for 4 days now… and the response is that all I can do is wait for my billing statement to come in the mail! YES – isn’t that bizzare?! Alltel will _not_ provide me with my own call activity — the same information I will receive in a billing statement within weeks (up to 1 month possibly mind you!!!) — without a subpoena! Why do I need a subpoena for my own call activity?!

To provide some background… I have two priorities in this situation left, 1) restore my integrity (and that of my family – who also uses the phone) and ease peace-of-mind by letting others know what happened, and 2) do what I can so this criminal who stole the phone and made the harassing phone calls receives justice. Now, the first thing to do in all timeliness is gather information and evidence: recordings of the voice messages left and note the times, contact the Perkins restaurant for any possible information, and most importantly — the log of actual calls made. Build a timeline of the activity… the first step in any forensic investigation!

Need a Timeline – Without the call log, I have no idea how extensive the damage may have been and who has been harassed. There are over 200 entries in my addressbook, many of those belonging to personal and professional contacts of my parents as well as father’s business. There is also the chance the criminal may have called somone outside of my addressbook (an ex-girlfriend? a disliked associate?) under assumed anonymity that may provide a lead into finding out who this person is. The first call was likely made still at or around Perkins, which we could use to question the manager and waitress on duty for recollection of the evening and individual (suspicious calling activity, seating location, meal ordered, and possible credit card receipt -> name?). There may even be a log of which cell towers the phone was connected to that may provide some geographic positioning, maybe even 911-GPS location. The first step then is to get my own phone activity log, so what work have I done to get this?

The Process – Monday morning I called the Omaha police department to file the stolen phone police report, as advised from the Plattsmouth officer since that was the location my phone was lost/stolen at. I left a message to file a report, and the call was to be returned within 36 hours. In the mean time I was able to get a replacement phone at Alltel for a $50 fee. Speaking with an Alltel representative personally, they said I needed to call customer support to get my call activity information – as they can only access past billing statements on their computer. She did talk me into a 300 text messaging package for $5.99/month though, with 1 free month and provided a free printout on using Google SMS.

I called Alltel customer service to request my account statement early, but got nowhere. Talking with more managers in the technical support and even the fraud department still got me the same answer cold answer, “you need a subpoena to request your own call activity before the billing statement is issued”. Approximately 24 hours after calling in the crime, I got a call back on Tuesday afternoon to finalize the police report (Omaha Police Dept. report #43965F) so that it is on record. (I also had to provide my SSN and driver’s license number to file this report, which I thought slightly odd.) I thought we were moving somewhere now, and I was also still in contact with the Plattsmouth police department — and forwarded them the Omaha report number and contact information.

That evening, a different Plattsmouth police officer visited our house and took down our information to file an official request with Alltel for the call activity. The main reasons being that my father’s professional contacts have been harassed and abused by the criminal, and as a businessman, action needs to be taken immediately. The form was filled out and dropped off for the main case officer (who handled the call harassment complaint against me) in Plattsmouth, who was to be in the office again on Wednesday.

3 Days Later – It is now Wednesday August 24th, and the harassing calls were made all morning on Sunday the 21st, yet I am still no closer to finding out who this criminal is OR who he harassed in my addressbook. I spoke with the officer again that evening, she has the paperwork and will process it as much as she can the next day. She cautions me, that I may need to take this up with the Omaha police since the “stolen phone crime” took place in Omaha and would be in their jurisdiction. We also contacted Alltel to prepare the paperwork, as the signed letter should be on it’s way shortly.

Final Disappointment – I called the case officer here in Plattsmouth again today, Thursday afternoon, only to find out that nothing has been done with the report. She took it to her deputy chief (I believe) who promptly shot it down and passed-the-buck to say Omaha should handle it. The Plattsmouth police had contacted their only harassment complainant (after I asked them to do so on Tuesday and Wednesday) and the complainant was satisfied to hear that the phone had been stolen and that “the case is under investigation” (if that can even be said… well, I AM doing an investigation if you can call it that). I was glad that the police were at least able to take care of this simple request (as I was unable to contact the complainant myself). YET, my request for a simple piece of signed paper to go to Alltel asking for my own records… is now reinitiated with the Omaha Police Department.

After 3-4 redirections of my call to finally the South West Omaha division of criminal investigations (and I get through explaining that my case is of a stolen cellphone), they try to redirect me again back to Plattsmouth since that is likely where the majority of the complaints of call harassment (obscene, vulgar, sexually-explicit, etc) would have been made (my parents too – though they didn’t file a complaint). Honestly, most calls were likely to residents outside of Plattsmouth – to Omaha and elsewhere. I end up speaking with someone willing to help, in contrast to only being interested in finding a way to pass-the-buck around.

She explained to me that this case would be “the lowest priority” (understandably) compared to her $X,000 computer equipment theft case, and that a subpoena would take an excessive amount of work, involving: writing up the subpoena, walking it over to someone, then another person for approval, and finally a judge, etc…. She said that it would likely take 2-3 weeks for a subpoena of my own records to come through, and by now my own billing statement is due in only about 1 week. She had spoken with the Alltel fraud department and got this information, so basically she was telling me to “be patient and wait” just as other police officers and Alltel representatives had said. To her credit though, she was genuinely concerned that I could not access my own account information, and that Alltel’s policy would require a subpoena for such a personal-account request. I just wish I could get a judge on my own side, and try to sue Alltel to change this prohibitive policy. SO, this is basically the end of the road!

Finally – nothing more has really been solved yet. I have grown greatly disappointed in Alltel’s customer service and the ability of our local law enforcement officers to function efficiently in a citizens interest though. I did contact the Perkins though, and found out their cameras are only outside, as one manager said, and they only keep video for 24 hrs unfortunately. I don’t see how any justice can come about from this (I’d like to see the criminal pay for my stolen phone, the activity recorded on his record, and $500-1000 paid out to the police officier charities)… but I guess I just move on.

The adage, Life isn’t fair and Justice is blind seem appropriate here.

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