My mom stole my identity

May 24, 2010 · 21 comments

I’m pretty excited about today’s post because it’s gonna provide some very interesting responses in the comment section below (assuming you leave me a comment that is :)). I was browsing the web yesterday and came across this question in a PF forum…

My mother has been using my credit cards and has ran up a serious balance. Now she doesn’t want to pay them. Am I stuck with this debt that isn’t mine? Or could I threaten with having her arrested for identity theft?

Oh. Pick me. Pick me. I know the answer. You throw that woman in the slammer and never look back. Oh wait… If mom is in jail, who is going to fold my clothes and make me meatloaf?

Looks like we have a little predicament here. It’s a tough call not knowing the specifics of the situation (persons age, amount of fraudulent debt, relationship with mommy, etc) so I’m not gonna really try and provide any insight. What I am going to do, however, is play the hypothetical game and ask “What would you do?”

Here’s the situation….

You wake up tomorrow to a phone call from Bank of America. They say you are 6 months late on your credit card payments. “That’s funny” You think to yourself, “I’ve never had a CC with BoA.” After some investigating you come to realize yo momma (or dad/sibling/spouse) has racked up a solid $30,000 in debt on a CC she fraudulently took out in your name for silly things like entertainment, cosmetics, etc. It’s not that she needed the money for medical treatment or something urgent. You’re now on the hook for the $30k and have zero to show for it.

Personally, I would probably file the criminal charges (no offense Mom Ninja). It would be extremely difficult to do because I’m a total mommas boy, but she raised me to be a law abiding ninja (in fact she told me if I ever drank underage she would send my a$$ to military school). Why should she not be expected to adhere to the same standard? A $30,000 debt would be a major setback seeing that I am only one month away from being debt free. I’m also a few months out from starting a family of my own and have a responsibility to put Girl Ninja’s needs first. So yes, if my mom took out $30K in my name, and blew it on a bunch of random junk, I would seek the death penalty file a criminal complaint against her.

Alright, now you know the situation. How would you handle it? I’m sure most of you would confront mom and tell her she has to make the payments. Let’s assume she can’t afford to, which is a reasonable assumption seeing that she resulted to identity theft. What do you do? Do you tell your mom your pissed at her, but make the payments yourself? Refuse to pay, refuse to press charges, and let the delinquent accounts wreak havoc on your credit score for the next 7 years? Or do you head down to the local PD and file a police report knowing that she could possibly face some jail time (don’t drop the soap mom)?

For those of you that aren’t aware, the only way (that I know of) to have fraudulent charges removed from your credit report is by filing a police report indicating your identity has been stolen. You then take this police report to the credit reporting agencies as well as your specific creditors to have the bogus debts disappear. It’s not as simple as disputing them online.

1 Single Guy Money

I am a big momma’s boy too but if she did that to me, I would have to report her. If she could do something like that to me, she obviously doesn’t care much about me. This is certainly a sticky situation but sometimes, you have to make the right decision and put personal feelings aside.

2 Sandy L

I can’t imagine my mother doing something like that to me…but I can picture several other relatives doing it and justifying it in their minds as ok. I’m pretty sure if someone can stoop that low, I’d have no problem doing what I had to to protect myself and my other family.

3 Everyday Tips

Mr. Ninja- Someone jacked my credit to the tune of 22k a few years ago. They bought a pool, clothes, you name it. American Express actually locked my account as I was apparently making some pretty funky purchases. All the charges were removed and the rest of the investigation was up to them. I didn’t have to do a thing. So, if they found out it was my mom (I better go see if she has a pool hidden somewhere), I wouldn’t even be involved.

So, bottom line is, if I knew it was my mom, I may report the fraudulent charges and leave it at that. If they found out momma was a thief, well then it was their doing. Momma can’t betray my trust and charge a bunch of money and ruin my financial life and not expect something in return.

4 Young Mogul

Definitely press charges…and given some of the things that have taken place in my family, this isn’t such a far-fetched scenario. This is why I have fraud alert on my credit that notifies me in REAL time of any changes to my credit.

5 momninja

Well, now is the time for me to come clean…..PSYCH….I am glad that you are a law abiding Ninja.

6 Stephan

my first step would be to confront my mom, i would keep the police out of it unless totally necessary. But realisticaly, i dont think i could ever throw my mom in jail, even if she charged 30k. id work out a system with my mom whereby we could figure out a way for her to pay me back most of what she owes me over a period of time.

Preferred Financial Services

7 savedtosave

In the words of Madea (tyler perry reference)

CLINK CLINK LOCK HER UP!

8 Ted

Toughie!

I would treat the same as if anyone stole my cards. Peace out momma, that’s 30 grand! I might try to call the CC company and say it was stolen or fraud and for them to investigate. I doubt it would be jail time for momma.

9 Sandy L

Come to think of it, this did actually happen with a family member with bad credit. They put people’s names down as co-signers of a loan. When the credit card companies came calling we just told them that we never signed anything and it was their problem for not verifying the co-signer was a) a real person and b) someone who actually agreed to the terms. We didn’t hear back after that.

What was unbelievable was that this person was able to do this multiple times with multiple unsuspecting co-signers before they ever got caught. They never went to jail and it never ended up affecting any of the many co-signers negatively.

10 Rachel

Perhaps I missed something in the story, but it seems to me there is a difference between opening up new cards in someone else’s name and just using another person’s credit cards. It read to me as though the mom was using her child’s cards, not opening additional lines of credit in her child’s name (which is, without question, a case of stolen identity). If the mother were just using her child’s card, that may or may not be a problem, depending on whether or not the mother’s name was also on the account. If it was, I don’t know whether there is any helpful recourse anyone could suggest other than closing the account and no longer sharing a credit card.

The reason this came to mind is that when I left for college, my mom suggested we add her to my debit account so she could put money in in case I ran short. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that she was doing the opposite (taking my money from my two part-time jobs out of my account while making lofty claims to pay it all back). I opened another account, she realized I stopped putting money in the one she had access to, and we didn’t discuss it further until I graduated from college (so I hear you all–it is difficult to confront one’s parent about money).

Best of luck to the person in question!

11 Michelle

Oh, that is awful! Sorry that happened to you. I read the original complaint the same way – that if mom were an authorized user on the account, the kid is SOL. If mom were using the cards illicitly, without permission or being an user on the account, it would need to be reported to the police to be considered identity theft.

12 Tessier

In my opinion it’s not up to me to turn her in. I would simply report the error to the credit card company and the credit bureau and let them sort out what happened. If they are able to figure out that mom was the person or person’s responsible for the debt then so be it mom can work it out with them. I don’t see why you need to be the bad guy you did nothing wrong so mom good luck getting out of this one.

13 Investing Newbie

There are some cold-blooded souls out there! WOOO! I don’t think I could ever throw my mom in jail especially not for identity theft. The jury is still out on murder as well. And likewise, she would do the same for me. It’s the concept of family, and that comes first. Because please, if I threw my mom in jail, I wouldn’t be living in her basement rent-free and getting my food made.

That said, Momma Newbie won’t be getting off all easy peasy. Nope. I will definitely get my 30K back, it’s really only a matter of how and when.

14 Forest

My partner had a very close relative do something like this….. Another close member of the family covered it up for over a year too so she ended up with two people stealing her ID…. She did not report in the end (I think she should have) and she got the cash paid back but will a small stain on her credit report. The wound will never heal.

I’m sure MumNinja would never do such a thing!

15 Michelle

Dave Ramsey calls it financial (child) abuse – he’s had a few calls across the years about parents opening up utilities in their kids’ name and skipping out on the bills, a man who stole his WIFE’s identity and ran up $60K credit card debts then died, leaving his estate penniless and the widow had to face losing her home, since her 50% equity in it couldn’t cover his fraud, a young woman who ‘signed’ on parent-plus student loans that her father inflated the needed amounts and remodeled his house with ‘her’ student loans and is defaulting on them. Ugly, ugly stuff.

My mom is saintly* and would never do such a thing, so I guess I’m blessed.

*She even documented every penny of the SS benefits paid ‘to’ my brothers after my dad’s passing til they were 18, accounted for their apportioned cost of living expenses and paid them the balance of what was left over at their graduation from schooling.

16 Red

Wow! GREAT hypothetical! Lol.

I love my mom to death. She’s my best friend. But if she was ever able to do that to me, I’d question how much she valued our relationship in the first place. I know American Express does their own investigation and files charges accordingly, but I don’t know if it’s the same with every other card company. If the only way to get it off my accounts was to file criminal charges… I still don’t think I could do it. I would have to exhaust every other option before stooping to that. Bad credit score or good, my mom is my mom.

17 Money Smarts

I love my mom to death, but if she did something like this I would definitely report it, and make sure that she paid it back. If she wasn’t able, that’s fine – but at least it would be reported as fraud and wouldn’t have to be paid by me. I think too often people let things like this slide – and then they just get worse or reoccur. I know someone who’s mother just did this to them because of a gambling addiction. She ran up credit cards and borrowed money and didn’t pay it back. She then ended up stealing from her employer too – who DID report her. She’s now in a heap of trouble.

I say yes, report her, and get her help!

18 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

I love my family and know they’d never do this, but if they did, hellooooo cops. Yep, I’d report anyone who messes me over like that…even Mom.

19 Dee Zister

I have a friend whose mother did this to both her and her sister. My friend is currently paying back every cent. Oh…and the mother took most of her federal student loan money.

20 Aury (Thunderdrake)

I can’t even imagine mama dragon doing that on me. It would be tough to say.

I would probably be devastated and end up (through great hesitation) pressing a charge. It’s a betrayal in my eyes, but I couldn’t just blow off family like that. I’d use the least amount of conviction, but anything to at least revoke the credit and minimize her time (if at all) under any form of justice.

Of course, I’d be asking for the impossible. People in law love making people suffer, and creditors love tormenting debtors. It feels like a lose/lose situation.

21 BRB

I have a friend who’s mother took out student loans in his name to blow on stuff. He’s never said anything and she is paying them off, but I’ve always thought it was a really crappy situation and would do something about it. After all, if she defaults on them he’s screwed.

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