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Family Member Opened Credit Card In My Name | What are the Consequences and What to Do

A family member opened credit card in my name, what do I do? This is one of the questions people ask when they come across cases of identity theft from people they trusted. Here's how to prove a relative opened a credit card secretly in your name, and what to do.

Key Takeaways

  • Reasons relative to opening credit in your name are when a relative gets a financial strain or for fraudulent reasons.
  • How it affects you is the dire implications on your credit score and relationship. 
  • To prove a relative is an identity theft perpetrator, monitor your finances and other loopholes like health fraud and family fraud.
  • If you find out that a relative has opened a credit card in your name, confront them for repayment and report identity theft to FTC or the police.

Family Member Opened Credit Card In My Name: Reasons for That

Most identity theft victims agree that family members opened a credit card account in their name for two reasons.

Firstly, it's for relieving a financial strain. Your spouse, grandchild, or child opens a credit card most subtly when they have a secret financial strain. But they don’t realize that that is not very far from stealing from you.

Think about it. A dear one can easily access vital information necessary to take a credit card without your knowledge. 

Sometimes guardians may get cornered by circumstances and need. Sadly, they end up abusing their kids' SSNs and clean credit scores. 

Here, please remember that that is taking advantage of the clean credit scores of innocent children. And when the child needs a student loan or whatever credit, they won’t be able to access it.

a person looking at the empty wallet

Second, you could be sharing a name with a family member. Taking a credit card is overly deceptive because sharing a name could lure a dear one to take credit in your name. But unless they ask first, that’s not fair because you could be sharing a name, but you don't share ID and most likely don't live together. So in a way, all cards show that your relative who will take a credit card in your name without your knowledge do so fraudulently.

Now, suppose they take the credit for a genuine financial need. In that case, encourage the relative to come clean to you the next time they need a financial boost. Because, again, you don’t want any loophole that may connect you to crazy Benami accounts used to carry out all sorts of crimes opened under you. 

What Happens When a Family Member Opens Credit Cards in Your Name?

The following happens when a relative opens credit cards, impersonating you.

  1. Reduced Credit Score on Your Side

If a family member takes credit in a child’s name and fails to pay, their credit future is at risk. If someone takes credit in your name and fails to clear it in time, your good credit score will reduce significantly.

  1. It Will Cause You to Take Unplanned Credit Security Measures That Will Affect You

You'll have to freeze credit for a while, fill out a fraud alert, change financial accounts' passwords, etc. If you freeze your credit, you won't access credit yourself. It may become hard to recall your passwords within the first few days, and filling out fraud alerts leaves you somewhat paranoid, and for a good reason, especially toward your family members.

  1. Sadly A Family Member Will Get Criminalized

Imagine a family member, like your mom or dad, your child or grandchild, getting incriminated. It’s alarming because they most likely won't be included in intimate family fellowships. That’s where isolation kicks in. And for what? Identity fraud is not worth it. It is better to take an extra shift at the workplace or work a second or third job. 

What’s the Penalty for Flaring a Credit Card in Somebody Else’s Appellation?

The penalty for taking debt in somebody else's name depends on the victim's response. The perpetrator risks being charged with identity theft, whose penalty is up to 20 years imprisonment.

Let's say a child took a loan in their parent's name. If the parent agrees to clear off and chooses not to press charges, there's no need for investigations or arrest.

If the parent, the identity theft victim, can't manage the debt, they'll have to file a report of identity theft. They'll also reach out to credit bureaus like Equifax to clear their credit reports, and the child will take responsibility for that debt.

Also, the parent may refuse to file an identity theft report. But the credit card issuer, who is a secondary credit card fraud victim, may report. And the secondary fillers may include the credit card company.

So, the charges they face include identity theft, forgery, theft by lying, fraud, larceny, and others, resulting in misdemeanor or felony convictions. These two will land the one responsible on probation for a year or several years in jail.

a credit card, a pen, glasses and cell phone on the table

How to Prove Someone Took Free Credit Card Debt in Your Name? 

You'll prove that someone took debt in your name in several ways, including the following.

  • Monitoring your finances for financial fraud
  • Monitoring loopholes in your health for health and household fraud

Let's look at each one separately.

Monitoring Your Finances

Monitor financial credit reports before proceeding to the next month. Look keenly at your bank credit card statements’ details and pay attention to credit repayments. Inquire of unknown rebates to anyone else involved.

If the crime is against your business and credit auditing gets technical, consider hiring a financial auditor and have regular reports in the board meeting as every stakeholder gives an account.

Also, look out for red flags. For instance, are you getting credit as you deserve, or are you getting denied? Are you receiving debt recollection calls? Do you receive the regular bank account reports as you should? Do you write checks, and they bounce?

You'll have to conduct a careful audit to answer those questions and easily catch the perpetrator.

Monitor Red Flags in Your Health for Health Fraud

Monitoring red flags like when you're denied health coverage unprecedentedly with reasons like you've maxed your insurance benefits.

That affects senior citizens, families, and individuals alike. And think about it. If it's not a genuine mistake(rare), someone has fraudulently posted as you to get your health benefits.

Lookout for unfamiliar health bills covering false conditions detailed in your medical file falsely.

Household Fraud

Household identifiers of perpetrators include.

  • Missing critical mail like bank statements
  • Stolen or lost IDs
  • Strange deliveries
  • A different outlook on online accounts
  • Suspicious logins and getting suspicious login messages for unknown accounts

What to Do if Someone Opens Credit Cards in Your Name

When individuals open credit cards in your name, file a police report for identity theft. And before then, consider confronting them. That disputes fraudulent information, which will help you access credit in the future.

You can also go for a credit freeze. Three credit bureaus help with credit freezing: Equifax, Experian‍, and TransUnion. This step ensures no one can get credit in your name in the meantime. Plus, if you want free credit reports, it will take up to thirty days after reporting. But should you bring added information, they’ll issue a free credit report within 45 days.

The same three credit bureaus above and other insurance agencies like AURA allow you to have credit card fraud alerts. And should you feel the need for an extended fraud alert, go for it. A credit reporting agency allows alerts for up to 8 years.

a person sitting in front of the laptop with cell phone and credit card

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Someone Else Open a Credit Card in My Name?

Federally, no, someone else can't open a credit card in your name because identity theft is a criminal offense, and in terms of possibility, the answer is yes. Perpetrators can take credit using your name. Sadly, they risk affecting your credit score and creating fraudulent credit card accounts for carrying out crimes.

Can You Recover From Identity Theft?

Yes, you can recover from Identity theft. It takes about six months to recover. However, you'll work with credit bureaus to review your credit reports, point out the credit card fraud, and report the relative or any other person involved.

What Is the First Place to Go Online if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft?

The first online platform to go to when you become a victim of identity theft is the Federal Trade Commission. You can use their online portal to report any identity theft. You can also report to your local police department by phone. Here, don't use the emergency numbers, but you could use the office's number or go in person. In-person reporting is the best, as you can present your evidence.

How Do You Put an Alert on Your Social Security Number for Free?

To put an alert for your social security number, create a social security account to keep track of your public records. Also, consider adding an eService block so that anyone who needs to access the number must contact the office. The office can alert you if anyone else calls to get your SSN. 

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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