Senior says college billed her for courses taken by ID thief - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

CBS 5 Advocate

Senior says college billed her for courses taken by ID thief

Posted: Updated:
  • More newsMore>>

  • Ukraine parliament ratifies EU pact

    Ukraine parliament ratifies EU pact

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:31 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:31:42 GMT
    The city council in Donetsk says three people have been killed and five wounded in shelling overnight in the city in eastern Ukraine.More >>
    Ukraine's parliament ratified an agreement to deepen economic and political ties with the European Union on Tuesday, and passed legislation to grant autonomy to the rebellious east as part of a peace deal.More >>
  • National education report slaps Alabama with failing grades

    New report ranks Alabama among the worst in nation for student achievement

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 6:48 AM EDT2014-09-16 10:48:17 GMT
    Alabama schools received mostly failing grades in a new national report. The report by the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation ranks Alabama near the bottom when it comes to student achievement.More >>
    Alabama schools received mostly failing grades in a new national report. The report by the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation ranks Alabama near the bottom when it comes to student achievement. Alabama did an average job in some areas but overall, the report indicates significant improvement is needed.More >>
  • 10 things to know for Tuesday

    10 things to know for Tuesday

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 6:16 AM EDT2014-09-16 10:16:33 GMT
    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:More >>
    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:More >>
SURPRISE, AZ (CBS5) -

A senior in Surprise says a college took her state tax refund to pay a tuition debt. She says she's never been a student at the school.

Real identity theft is so rampant in Arizona that it's not uncommon for some people to say it happened when it really didn't - just to try to get out of paying a debt. But a 72-year-old special ed teacher with multiple degrees? That doesn't seem like the profile of a liar and a cheat, but Maricopa Community Colleges wasn't so sure.

"I have a master's degree is healthcare management and a master's in special education," Pat Callanan said.

Callanan says she's now going for her doctorate degree. The special ed teacher says she's never been to a two-year college. But in April 2012 she got a strange letter from Maricopa Community Colleges (MCC). It said she had an outstanding balance of $539 and her account was overdue.

"They told me I had taken two classes back in 2007 and they want their money. I said I never took a class at Rio Salada or any other schools in Maricopa County," Callanan said.

It was a clear-cut case of ID theft - that's what Callanan told the MCC. She says they didn't believe her so she demanded verification of the debt.

"If you have my name and my ID, I want to see who signed it, because it wasn't me, and they would not cooperate at all," Callanan said.

To make matters worse, MCC informed Callanan they were confiscating her Arizona income tax refund. State agencies can do that when you're delinquent on a debt. Sure enough, Callanan got a letter from the Arizona Department of Revenue saying it sent her $328 tax refund directly to MCC and she still owes them another $211.

"I couldn't believe that actually happened, I mean you hear about identity theft. You hear about it, you've done a lot of stories on Channel 5 about it, and I thought, no, this can't be happening," Callanan said.

Callanan even hired a lawyer to send MCC a letter demanding verification of the debt and the return of the refund. It's been a year and Callanan says MCC has never responded.

"I want them to return the money that's rightfully mine," Callanan said.

Officials at MCC tell CBS 5 News they were and still are skeptical of Callanan's story mainly because she never filed an official police report on the alleged identity theft. Callanan says she didn't have the time to do it.

In the end, M-C-C decided to wipe out the remaining balance owed and refund Callanan most of the state refund it confiscated.

They say even though there is no proof she was a victim of identity theft, they wanted to do this as a goodwill gesture.  CBS 5 News would like to thank MCC for its extensive help in bringing this case to a close.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow