A few years ago I posted here to ask for help after having my identity stolen by my mother. It turns out that this has now happened to my younger brother as well, but he isn't being smart about it. How can I help him?
This community was so helpful and supportive three years ago that, being at a loss for what to do, I have decided to humbly ask for your advice once more. Rather than rehash all of the details here, it is easiest to link to the previous thread
Quick update: The accounts were removed from my credit history. I contacted my brother about what happened and told him to check his credit report, which he claimed was clean. I got married and elected not to invite them. My husband and I are very happy together. I cut off contact with my parents completely for two years, but in early 2012 my experience caring for my mother in law as she passed away from cancer led me to rethink my decision. I have had an email and phone only relationship with my parents since May 2013 that is solidly mediocre. They never accepted responsibility for their actions.
Now to the present problem...
I've kept up with my brother (just recently 24) as much as possible in these last few years which was difficult because, against my advice, he was still living with my parents until about two months ago. He did/does not have consistent access to a phone, so we mostly talk through social media. He had a year long period where he was a sort of vagabond with some friends, probably because he felt lost. He finally got a job and it took him a long time to save up and leave my parent's house since they were guilting him into giving them money and staying with them. He does not have a driver's license, as I didn't until I moved away. They always claimed it was because they didn't have the money for the training or insurance, but I suspect they were using transportation to control us. He doesn't yet have a job in his new city. In a nutshell, his life isn't very stable right now but he's doing his best and living with a few good friends.
On Saturday my husband and I attended a wedding near the town that my brother now lives in. We made time to visit him on our way home. I hadn't actually seen him in years. He seems okay but worn out. During our conversation he admitted that my parents had stolen his identity too!
Cue internal rage. He never told me and lied about it because he's always tried to be the 'peacemaker' of the family, and my mother told him that I would be angry at her if I knew. Um, YES. Angry doesn't really cover it. My saving grace in my mother's house was always my natural defiance and independence. My brother has always been more susceptible to her abuse and emotional manipulation.
As it stands, in addition to his defaulted students loans, he has several thousand dollars of credit card debt that my parents fraudulently racked up in his name. He doesn't even know exact numbers. They claimed that they needed it "for food", which is what they told me. I don't know how long the identity theft has been going on, but he already has collections agencies after him. It seems like he is trying to run away from the problem and is smoking a lot of pot to cope.
He refuses to report the fraud to the police. He is loyal to my parents and worried about what would happen to my mother's health if she went to jail (she has multiple legitimate health concerns). I've tried to explain that this could ruin his life, if not his credit, if he does nothing. I told him that he needs to at least file a report and see what can be done, even if he doesn't want to press charges. He won't do it.
What can I do to help him? Can I file a report on his behalf? Would pressing charges on my own past identity theft help him, assuming the statute of limitations hasn't passed? I know you are not my/his lawyers and obviously I'm going to investigate on my own, but general legal advice would be great if you have some. What would you do if you were a young man with a lot of debt, no job, few skills, and no transportation?
On the personal side, I just started talking to my parents again... I don't want to talk to them anymore as a result of this, but I know that if I cut off contact again all of a sudden my brother will be the one to suffer her wrath. I care about my brother and my relationship with him. Part of me wants to use a relationship with me (which they really want for some reason) to force my parents into dealing with this, telling them that I'll never talk to them again unless it gets resolved, but I know that isn't the right way to go about it and likely won't work anyway. Ugh, how could they do this to him? They didn't learn from it the first time? I'm really at a loss here. I don't know what to do. My husband and I are doing well but we still have plenty of student loans to pay off. Also, I feel that paying off the debt my parents incurred would send the wrong message to everyone involved and make me feel bitter.
This is already longer than I thought it would be, but here's some extra insanity for you: About a year ago my mother inherited some property from an ex-husband, which she promptly sold. Apparently all of that money is gone, used to buy a mobile home to live in, a car, and a television. Why in the f*** didn't she use some of that money to pay off the cards in my brother's name??? She's also gone totally nuts and claims that my brother and I are going to die in some kind of giant flood in the next few months because we live on the west coast. She's probably just using this delusion to legitimize ruining my brother's credit since hey, he's going to die anyway, right?
UUUUGGGGGHHH. Give any advice you feel like giving. I can't believe I wasn't smart enough to head this off before it happened.