Credit fraud
August 7, 2014 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: looks like an ex has gotten an apartment in Chicago using my friend's name and credit. What should he do?

My friend (Jay) is in a domestic partnership with this person (Bob). They have been split up for several years, though technically still in a legal domestic partnership (possibly a legal marriage at this point). Jay recently pulled his credit report and discovered that he has an apartment in his name in Chicago. Jay lives in Seattle. Jay is aware that Bob lives in Chicago at this very address. Bob has not contacted Jay at any time to check to see if this is okay. Bob is not doing well money-wise and has not for many years. Jay and Bob have semi-regular contact and are amicable.

At this time we do not know what personal information or documents Bob has.

What should my friend Jay do to first correct this error on his report and to stop Bob from taking out a credit card or doing something bad that will affect Jay's credit?

Jay would prefer not to harm Bob in any way, but doesn't want to risk Bob doing something if his financial situation declines.
posted by Craig to Work & Money (15 answers total)
I'm pretty sure that ESPECIALLY if Jay does not want to hurt Bob, he needs to hire a lawyer for this.

Jay needs a lawyer to hip him on his marriage situation, too.

Definitely, tho, Jay needs a lawyer to help him understand, untangle, and protect himself (and hopefully protect Bob) from Bob's choices.

Jay also has to grok that Bob is committing a felony, whether it gets Bob in trouble or not. This is a fact. It has no emotion. It was Bob's free will to commit this crime.

Acceptance that this is occurring is Jay's first step.
posted by jbenben at 10:31 AM on August 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Is it possible he just got mail there? I don't see the absolute evidence of fraud here.
posted by k8t at 10:44 AM on August 7, 2014

Jay has never lived in Chicago - but has an apartment in his name as his residence on his credit report with a Chicago address. Is there some other way this could happen?
posted by Craig at 10:49 AM on August 7, 2014

K8t makes a good point I had totally forgotten about. Sometimes erroneous addresses appear on credit reports for a variety of reasons I won't bore you with here, but trust me, it happens.

In that case, Jay contacts the credit agencies in writing and has the address removed from all reports.

That doesn't answer the bigger questions, like the current legal status of his domestic partnership, and if Bob's financial woes effect him in any way.

Jay still needs an hour or two with a lawyer or free legal clinic to sort all that out and get informed.

I took the question on face value that the credit report lists Jay as a lease holder. Apologies if I got that wrong.
posted by jbenben at 10:51 AM on August 7, 2014

Do not overreact to this. Once your name attaches to someone else's (such as it might in a domestic partnership) in a credit report, odd things can happen. My first wife, for instance, was once shown as residing at my second wife's address, even though she had never lived anywhere near there.

The very first thing Jay should do is call the apartment complex and see if the apartments is ACTUALLY in his name. If it is not, he should go through the credit bureau procedures for correcting data.
posted by ubiquity at 10:53 AM on August 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Credit reports can sometimes do some funny stuff. One of the reporting agencies believes that I am also my brother and have a house in Massachusetts.
posted by advicepig at 10:53 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Upon your update - some credit reports give rental history. Some give former addresses.

I'm not familiar with my rental history being included with my basic credit report. Just for former addresses. Have things changed??

Ways this could happen:

- Jay was visiting Chicago and used Bob's address to have something sent, used it as an address for the hospital or police, used it as an address when giving a statement regarding car insurance or rental car.

- Something lists Jay and Bob's addresses as being both of theirs because they're still married. Any where one of them lives, both are considered in residence by certain entities, because Jay and Bob are still married.

- Bob used Jay's credentials without permission somewhere innocuous, and now it looks on paper that Jay lives at Bob's address in Chicago.

- Bob committed fraud against Jay.
posted by jbenben at 11:00 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jay must keep in mind that if Bob used his information to rent an apartment, then Bob has committed a serious crime. He should treat it as such and endeavour to set aside all emotional attachments to Bob.

Jay's first step should be to call the credit bureau(s) involved.

These companies are called Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union -- what bureau was used should be stated on the credit report -- if it's a report from all 3 bureaus it should state what information was from which credit bureau -- it's possible the incorrect information is from more than one of them.

He should say to the credit bureaus that this address information is erroneous, that he has never lived at that address nor rented an apartment in Chicago, ever. He should request that they investigate and research this as to possible fraud or identity theft.

Note that if Jay does this, he has no involvement with Bob. If Bob is found to have fraudulently used Jay's info to rent an apartment -- then Bob will likely be prosecuted by the State of Illinois.

Jay should document the dates and times of all contact with the credit bureaus, keep notes on all calls, and keep copies all correspondence, online or otherwise. Also, keep a copy of the credit report containing the fraudulent information. This is in case he has to hire an attorney later.

If the information is not found to be fraudulent, and is otherwise not explainable by any other situation besides fraud, then he should contact an attorney who specializes in identity theft and/or credit fraud.
posted by tckma at 11:05 AM on August 7, 2014

Craig: "Jay and Bob have semi-regular contact and are amicable."

I realize this is considered crazy advice around these parts because it doesn't involve a lawyer, but Jay might consider calling up Bob to ask what's up as a first step before calling in the cavalry.
posted by mkultra at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

I somehow am linked to my parents' address in a house I've never lived in and I haven't lived with them in nearly 20 years. I'd put a watch on the credit report and let it go unless there is other evidence to show fraud.
posted by k8t at 11:55 AM on August 7, 2014

to the credit bureaus ... He should request that they investigate and research this as to possible fraud or identity theft.

A credit bureau is not going to investigate identity theft, but they should be open to getting the results of someone else's investigation to prove the fraud happened.

Jay should consider getting a freeze put on his credit if he really thinks Bob may try to open more accounts in his name. This could be done without Bob's knowledge.
posted by soelo at 12:00 PM on August 7, 2014

Just trying to help clarify the question. You say that Jay "has an apartment 'in his name' "as his residence" on his credit report with a Chicago address."

Are you saying that a landlord in Chicago is reporting the credit status of an apartment (monthly payments on time, or late, etc.), and somehow the landlord has specifically reported that the name on the lease is Jay's name?

Isn't Jay's correct address also on the credit report?

My credit report has a couple of wrong addresses on it, and that's meaningless because the facts are what they are, and those are not my addresses. It doesn't mean that someone else has stolen my identity or is creating financial obligations for me.

As said by others already, there can be random reasons or no reasons at all for wrong information on credit reports.

Nthing that Jay should start by phoning Bob. However, since Bob cannot see the same piece of paper that Jay is holding in his hand, Bob may be initially mystified by Jay's question.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:20 PM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

The simplest explanation I can think of is that somewhere on Bob's rental application was a part for "spouse," which he filled out with Jay's information. Jay should call Bob to tell him about the credit report and ask about the rental papers. And if that's what Bob did, Jay could say, "don't do that again."
posted by zennie at 4:40 PM on August 7, 2014

This definitely happens. Among the previous addresses listed on my credit report is the apartment my ex lived in after we split up - I never resided there, and she most assuredly did not use my name in any rental application or the like.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 5:21 PM on August 7, 2014

Craig: "Jay has never lived in Chicago - but has an apartment in his name as his residence on his credit report with a Chicago address. Is there some other way this could happen?"

Oh my gods yes, especially if we're talking about the "current/former addresses" portion, which tends to be pretty inaccurate, really. My credit report had my father's and my address conflated, either because he used to add me as an authorized user on one of his credit cards "just in case,"or because he and I had a joint bank account many years ago (originally set up when I was a minor.) I had to correct the error multiple times before it stuck.
posted by desuetude at 10:25 PM on August 7, 2014

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