DR. WALLACE: My 15-year-old brother had to stay with my husband and me for a week while my parents went out of town. Kevin is an honors student and a "good kid," so we were glad to have him for a visit - that is until we received our telephone bill. It seems that Little Brother had been calling a porn line and discussing sex with a young lady who did everything possible to keep him on the line so her "company" would get more money. In six days, he made 14 calls for a total bill of $400. There is little chance that my parents can afford this amount of money and, of course, neither can my brother.
I called the phone company and explained that our underage brother was responsible for the calls, but they said it didn't matter who made the calls; we were responsible for the bill. We can pay it, but it will put a crimp in our budget. Since I know for sure that my parents can't pay for my brother's misadventure, should I even bother to inform them? All my brother had to say was, "Sorry, it won't happen again." I'm sure it won't!
- Sister, Oakland, Calif..
SISTER: Tell your parents what happened and show them the phone bill. Let them know that you and your husband will pay the bill, but that you expect your brother to reimburse you by working odd jobs and paying you a percentage of his earnings on a regular basis. Tell them you expect full payment even if it takes several years. And be sure to share this exciting news with your brother.
The thing is, I've only run into a few "corrupt" phone sex operators, the type who overcharge credit cards or think they can use the credit card to make a small purchase. All three of those instances occurred by calling services from the back of adult magazines or at the beginning of porn. I've never had a problem with operators I've come across online. I think the difference is between the how and why someone comes to doing this as a money earning job.