What to do if I recently found out that my ex-husband’s wife has been reading my emails from my son’s phone?

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What to do if I recently found out that my ex-husband’s wife has been reading my emails from my son’s phone?

Is this legal? She has also been using my social security number to check State Benefits Department (Food Stamps, Welfare, Medicaid) and see if I am receiving benefits. Is any of this legal and what can I do about it? She has also had a neighbor spying on me, submitted several false reports to CPS, and spent the last two years spreading hateful stuff about me through text email and facebook. She also gave my SSN to a third party individual. Is rhis legal?

Asked on October 13, 2012 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You have several activities listed.  Some are legal and some are not.  It's never okay to use someone else's social or identifying information.   Texas actually has a criminal offense called "fraudulent use or possession of identifying information."  Usually, it is considered a state jail felony.  If she is using your social without your permission to get access to private information or is handing it out, then you should contact your local law enforcement agency to file a complaint. 

With regard to her reading emails.  You may or may not have a claim.  If you give a third party access to your private emails, which includes your son, it's much harder to show a violation of a privacy interest. However, if she was just using his phone, but getting into the account fraudulently, then you may have the same type of crime listed above.

The spreading of info on the internet may be criminal or civil.  Texas now has some online harassment statutes, but they tend to be very limited in application and are only misdemeanors.  Regardless of whether her communications are via the interenet or some other means, though, if she is intentionally making false statements to others, you may have a civil defamation law suit.

As to what to do overall-- start with the criminal complaint.  Sometimes that's enough to get a person's attention-- but sometimes it just gets it started.  If that doesn't work, seek a restraining order based on all of the facts described.  You may also want to consider filing for a modification of your custody orders to set up rules which minimize her activities.  The judge in the custody case can't really order her to do certain things, but he can order you ex-to take more proactive measures.  For example, not allowing new wife to possess, access, or otherwise interfere with the use of your son's phone would be a good start.  If it starts hitting his pocket book (with more attorney's fees), he'll probably be motivated to start managing her a little better.


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