Landlord Suspected Of Illegally Tracking Their Tenants' Stimulus Checks

A landlord in Portland, Oregon is under fire after allegedly going to illegal lengths in pursuit of rent checks during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a text exchange shared by one of the tenants that has since gone viral, the landlord appeared to admit to a serious breach of privacy while tracking their tenants' stimulus checks.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic downturn has put tenants and landlords in a perilous situation.

Reddit | Innsmouth_Resident

With an estimated 22 million Americans suddenly out of work, many renters and property managers are wondering where their next payment is coming from.

And those anxieties are inspiring some worrying actions.

As Cascadian Resistance, a Pacific Northwest-based civil rights organization, tweeted about a dispute in Portland, some landlords seem to be willing to use illegal means to try to get at their tenants' sorely needed stimulus checks.

In a text exchange one tenant captured with a screenshot, their landlord appeared to admit to using their Social Security Number to access their IRS information online.

Twitter | @CasResistance

And not just for that one tenant, but several, in what would amount to a gross violation of privacy.

And it seems they're not the only one trying this tactic.

Reddit | dogear

The tenant who made the exchange public has since been identified as Austin Goodrich, a computer programmer; at least one other tenant has posted on social media about their landlord using their SSN to access their stimulus check status with the IRS as well.

As many pointed out on Twitter, the IRS warns against "unauthorized use" of someone else's information to access their IRS records.

And the IRS website notes that doing so can result in both "criminal and civil penalties."

It's still unclear whether the property management company faces criminal charges at this point.

Reddit | cippopotomas

However, Goodrich says civil penalties may well be on the table as he contemplates legal action.

Goodrich has since released a statement about his landlord's alleged activities.

Speaking with The Daily Dot, Goodrich said he had obtained legal representation and demanded that the property managers waive any rent remaining on his lease as well as any past due rent, that they return his security deposit, and provide him with an "excellent renters recommendation."

Goodrich also took the opportunity to suggest that the IRS beef up its online security measures.

Among other recommendations, Goodrich suggested users be able to track the dates and times that their accounts have been accessed, and the computer details for any and all attempts to access personal data or attempts to gain access to multiple accounts.

Writing for Forbes, legal analyst Shahar Ziv suggests that, if you suspect your landlord of trying to track your stimulus check, consider hiring a lawyer and filing a police report.

Until that happens, however, we'll have to rely on our own vigilance.