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What To Do When a Family Member Opens a Credit Card Under Your Name

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A Narrow Bridge Finance reader recently wrote me with a question that made it clear he is in a very tough spot. His Dad opened up a credit card under his name. As it is his Dad, and not a stranger, this is not your typical identity theft situation. Here is what was going on, and how to deal with identity theft by your mother, father, or another family member.

Reader Question:

I found out today my dad opened a Marriott Rewards Visa card under my name last year without me knowing and has been using the card for bills throughout 2013. I confronted him about the issue and demanded he pay the balance in full, told him to send me the card, and I would be changing the login. He agreed to do everything I asked, but I'm now left wondering if he has any other accounts with my name on them.

What's the best way to make sure this is the only account he's opened under my name?

I'm in the process of applying for a home loan and don't want to be surprised by other accounts in front of my fiancé when we start that process.

I appreciate the advice!

Hi Dan, that is a tough situation to be in. It is hard to trust your parent after doing something like that to you, which is never fun. That said, you can protect yourself and your credit.

Check Your Credit

To make sure that is the only account he opened up under your name, get your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. That is the government approved site to get your free credit report each year from each of the three major credit agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You don't have to get all three at once, and I recommend you get one every four months to always stay on top of your credit.

To make sure the loan process doesn't give you any surprises, I suggest checking your credit score before you begin. There are two (that I know of) places to get a 100% free credit score. My favorite is Credit Sesame. I have been using the site for a few years and like getting the free update once a month with analysis on what I can do to make my score better.

Protect Yourself

The “nuclear option” to make sure this doesn't happen again in the future is to put a block on new credit accounts that identity theft victims use to make sure new accounts opened under their name were really opened by them. This is called a credit freeze. Fees vary depending on where you live and the circumstances.

You can call the credit bureaus and report the card credit account as identity theft and have it removed from your report, which can be a lot of work and results can vary. If your Dad made late payments on the account, that is probably the best option. If all payments were on time, probably not worth the effort to do that.

Good luck dealing with this stressful situation. Hopefully all payments were on time and you can just take the easy steps to move forward.

Community Advice

What would you do in this situation? Share your best tips in the comments.

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