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Unknown CC Accounts


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My first post here...hey everybody.

Over the past month, I've learned a great deal about CC and the Credit Bureaus and the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Debt Collection Laws, but I still have a big question.

My situation: over the past 3 years, my wife opened up 4 credit card accounts in my name, our as a shared account, and paid them online, no paper bills in the mail. I was totally unaware of this until one of the credit cards called me at night and said the card was over limit. The total debt for all the cards runs at $58,000.00 This is money I feel obligated NOT to pay, or to pay a reduced sum.

I never signed or approved one application from these CC companies. My social security number was used without my knowledge or approval. I do not feel responsible for this debt, and am beginning to write form letters to the CC and Credit Bureaus stating so.

Does anybody know the validity of the accounts if you never signed anything??? Does anybody have advice for my situation.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Stuck in a quagmire

--Jeff--

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That is a very big question......and I'm sure you'll get responses from others who are more knowledgable than myself.

I don't know & I am not asking how this has affected your marriage, but I would say that you first would need to file a fraud report with your local police department and the major credit bureaus. As hard as that might be to do against your wife I wouldn't even attempt to dispute these debts as not yours without doing so. That's a lot of debt you are speaking of, and I have no idea if there would be criminal implications to your wife if you were to claim fraud.

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Luv is exactly right. If you did not sign anything and your name was signed and your social security number used on the application, that would be considered fraud. I cannot even imagine the situation you are in however one of the best ways to avoid the debt you did not approve is to file a fraud report with the local police dept. You will then be able to send the report to the OC and that will stand as one of your defenses. I can understand how difficult this could be due to it being your wife, however, there was a crime committed and criminal charges are likely to be filed if you report it. I wish I could tell you it was so much easier and you could just dispute the debt and the CC company would let you out, but unfortunately its not that simple. Someone else may have gone through the same situatuion here and may have better input, but overall I agree with Luv. If you just simply cannot report to the PD, (which I understand) it sounds like you have done the right thing by contacting them and making them aware of the situation. Perhaps they will settle for a smaller amount (unlikely as you and your wife are a single entity). Good luck, and hope you find better advice.

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My question is how did you not know for three years that your wife paid these bills by credit cards? How did you think the bills were being paid and why did you never see and question these bills? Did she put you on the cards as an authorized user? I would first find out from your wife how she put you on the cards. I agree with the others on the forum as this would be a "sticky" situation as it's your wife and not identify theft!:roll:

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My question is how did you not know for three years that your wife paid these bills by credit cards? How did you think the bills were being paid and why did you never see and question these bills? Did she put you on the cards as an authorized user? I would first find out from your wife how she put you on the cards. I agree with the others on the forum as this would be a "sticky" situation as it's your wife and not identify theft!:roll:

Like he said, she stopped paper bills and did everything online. He did not see any credit card bills and presumably did not go through her purse, and therefore didn't know these cards existed. In a lot of households, the woman handles the finances and the man never even bothers to look at the bank statements to see what's going in and out. That may be what happened here.

Add another reason to the list for checking your credit reports regularly. It's not only strangers you have to watch out for. Sometimes you don't even know your own spouse. :(

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Also, if you get thru this trying time with your wife you will end up paying on these debts one way or another. If you did file fraud ect....they could go after your wife, but if you're married it will still obviously impact you. If you don't make it thru this trying time....MO is not a community property state.

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My advice is for you to talk to a lawyer before you do anything else. Find out the full range of actions you have open to you -- both of you -- and what the consequences of those actions might be.

Depending on what you ultimately decide, you may want to ask your lawyer about the best way of seperating any joint property or other accounts you have together.

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Did she put you on the cards as an authorized user

This brings up a good point, were you the original signing party or an authorized user. Many CC apps these days do not require the signature of an authorized user, therefore she would be bound to the contract. If so, you would need to report this situation to the CCC, sometimes they will take you off upon request.

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This brings up a good point, were you the original signing party or an authorized user. Many CC apps these days do not require the signature of an authorized user, therefore she would be bound to the contract. If so, you would need to report this situation to the CCC, sometimes they will take you off upon request.

He said she opened the accounts in his name, using his social security number. She probably applied online (so there would be no need for a signature) and pretended to be him, using all his information, which she obviously had unfettered access to. If anything, she would have been the authorized user so she could have cards bearing her own name, even though they were all opened as "his" accounts.

Jeff, can you clarify this?

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By the way, I wish my parents had taught me, or really anybody, to check my credit report on an annual basis. If I had done this, the entire situation would not have gotten this out of control. I will be checking my credit report no less than twice a year for the rest of my life.

Clarification: My wife opened most of the CC accounts as joint accounts, where I am the primary signer, and she is a co-signer. The monthly CC bills were all emailed to her own private email account, but the email text always begin with my name "Jeffrey ....". Thus, I never saw a thing.

As far as the origin of the debt: I pay the rent, utilities, and most other bills at the house, so these were charges my wife developed from 2 failed business ventures (rather small losses, but she was never fully truthful about the financials anyway). During this time, the interest kept rolling, and good money began chasing bad money on the CC accounts. I inquired with her several times a year how she was doing, and she always said everything was 'ok."

Does that clarification help?

My current main plan is to attempt a 33-40% settlement rate on the debt. A Discover Card customer rep. even shared the fact she had $38,000 in personal debt left by a spouse, and she reduced to $12,000 by working with the CC hardship departments.

She said let the payments skip a month or two, and they will be more willing to settle. She also said not to let the account go past 3 months, cause that is when the CC turn it over to collection agencies.

If I can reduct the debt by 1/3, then the debt can be handled by our combined income.

Another option....I did find a few groups who say they can eliminate the debt to $0 by arguing the validity of the CC contract themselves, and ultimately appealing to the FTC to invalidate the debt. I, of course, am skeptical. Any credence to practices like these?

Thoughts............

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My first thought:

Good thing MO's not a community property state.

Friend of mine had this happen (before all the ID theft laws came into place) and he was liable for it anyway. One big downside of community property states.

Sorry this is happening to you, but geez.

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