Is this hopeless?
February 10, 2009 4:15 PM Subscribe
My mother took out credit cards in my name. She is now filing bankruptcy, and she is not able to continue paying the debt that's in my name. My husband's upcoming job will preclude us from filing bankruptcy for the debt in my name. Is there any way I can avoid paying $35k of debt she charged up in my name without suing her or otherwise getting her into serious legal trouble?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I want to say first that I'm going to see a financial advisor asap. What I'm looking for is any information someone who has been in this situation before can give me.
When I was a teenager, my mom took out credit cards in my name because she had too much credit to get them in her name. She paid these credit cards for nearly a decade. It was with my knowledge, but I was a teenager so there wasn't a lot I could do either way, and even if there was something I could have done I'm sure you can understand why I didn't feel that I was in a position to say no. I figured she was paying for them, so it wasn't a huge deal. For the while that she could pay for them, I had good credit so I figured it must be okay. Plus there were pressing medical issues in the family that complicated things financially, which is why my mom had too much credit in the first place; it was the only way we could get by. When I got a bit older (I'm in my mid-20s) I didn't know what to do about the credit in my name because by then, it had snowballed to the point where all she could do was live off credit cards. I didn't want to put her in a position where she could no longer get by, and she was still paying for the cards, so... You can see where this is going.
Recently her paycheck got cut in half. Suddenly all the things she could once pay for, she cannot anymore. She can barely afford much more than her house payment -- which nearly became undoable -- and utilities, so she is going to have to file bankruptcy. That's fine, but it only applies to the debt in her name, not mine. She is co-signer on almost all of my credit accounts, but from what I understand bankruptcy will not wipe that out -- it will just mean that I alone am responsible for the money. She will not have enough money to pay for the accounts in my name, either.
I would just file bankruptcy myself, except my husband is starting a job next month that will disqualify us from doing so, since he will make too much money to file.
Needless to say, I'm quite upset that I'm going to have to pay back $35,000 that I did not charge up, especially when I couldn't have done anything when she took the cards out in my name. However, I am unwilling to get her in legal trouble over it because I don't think ruining our relationship is worth it, and I don't feel right doing it because it's not like she spent the money on frivolous things. From what I understand, anyway, all I could do is take her to court over the amount of the money, and she doesn't have the money to give me.
Is there anything else I can do? Despite our not qualifying for bankruptcy, paying back that much money is going to be a serious financial problem for us.
I'm not looking for a lecture about how I should get my mom in trouble, or how I should have done something to take the credit away from her sooner. Getting her in trouble is not an option for me, and I can't change the past. I'm not going to let her use my credit anymore, and she won't need to anyway since she'll at least have enough for living expenses. What I am looking for is either a "you should look into this option" or a "no, a similar thing happened to me and there's nothing you can do."