Wicked Stepmother Trashing my Good Name
December 2, 2007 2:06 PM   Subscribe

The financial problems of someone who shared my name and former address are showing up on my credit report! How do I even begin to go about disputing this, should the credit agency's investigation not go in my favor?

My father, who I am on shakey terms with, remarried a couple of years ago, to a woman who shares my first name and middle initial. So now we share a first name, middle initial, and last name. They've since divorced, but in the time that she was there and occupying my old address, she's managed to rack up a loan, a credit card, and a bunch of medical bills that Transunion seems to think are mine, and hasn't paid off a one of them. They've gone to collections. My Equifax and Experian reports are correct and show only good accounts (two credit cards without balances, a consolidated student loan, a private student loan--I've tried to take care of my credit).

I've disputed these accounts through Transunion and am waiting for them to investigate. In the meantime, though, what can I do to prepare for dealing with this? Since I gave Transunion my current address, I'm worried that her collectors are going to start hassling me. I don't know if this is a mistake on Transunion's part, or if this woman is opening lines of credit with my SSN--she's not exactly of high moral character.

My question is, how do I go about proving I'm not her, when we share a name and past address? Would all of these accounts have required a SSN number to open, and is there any way I can find out if she has used hers or mine? If she didn't open them with my number, the dispute should clear that up, but what actions do I take if she has been opening accounts with my information?
posted by almostmanda to Work & Money (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I had the same problem, though it was someone with a completly different first name (but same last name) who shared an address that was kind of like mine (but not the same), and only one of the credit reporting agencies saw it. No idea how it happened. I disputed, said "This isn't me," and the bad account was gone from my report. I'm sure if you can show the SSN difference you'll be fine; they didn't ask me for any more information after the written dispute I sent in (I was really surprised).

FYI the "written dispute" included an official letter from me describing the problem, and printouts of my reports from all three agencies, incorrect account highlighted, showing that only the one agency had the error.
posted by olinerd at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2007

Oh, and in case this happens to you, I originally disputed online, and what I got was a letter addressed to the Mystery Wrong Person at my address saying "We don't see a problem." That's when I sent in the written one with all the details, and it disappeared.
posted by olinerd at 2:18 PM on December 2, 2007

You can place a fraud alert on your credit reports (all 3) with an explanation. You can specify in your fraud alert that you do not want any new lines of credit opened using your information unless they call your home number to verify (or your cell, whatever). This eliminates all of that instant credit at places like Circuit City where people can walk in and get a credit line on the spot and walk out with 2 grand worth of merchandise. It will not stop you from getting credit in the future, it will slow it down a bit with the requirement of the vendor calling to verify it is you who wants the credit. Also ask the credit agencies to take you off all of their mailings lists and not to sell your personal information so that your mailings of instant credit or credit card offers is greatly diminished. You might be getting those mailed to your old address making it very easy for her to get a credit card in your (her) name using your credit.
posted by 45moore45 at 2:41 PM on December 2, 2007

If you have the same middle initial every time they contact you let the collections agency know that her middle name (hopefully) differs from yours i.e you aren't the same person.
posted by ersatz at 4:10 PM on December 2, 2007

The agency will need some means of distinguishing the two of you. Give them your full names, date of birth, place of birth, SSN, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, previous addresses, maiden or previous names, and mother's name for each of you. Your father probably knows these or knows enough to help track them down.

If she has been opening accounts with your information, that's probably fraud and identity theft (there's an outside chance of her and/or the bank's error); at the very least, you should complain to the fraud units of the relevant banks.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:05 PM on December 2, 2007

I've heard of a service that calls you every time you(or someone) applies for credit. This makes instant decision a little difficult, but solves the problem of accounts being opened without you knowing.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:57 PM on December 2, 2007

Tangentially, that "fraud alert" flag on your credit can be extremely tiresome if you need to do things such as activating phone service or similar utilities that run credit checks but don't actually extend meaningful credit. Not that that should dissuade you, just bear in mind that "simple" things could now take weeks to resolve.

When you send letters send them registered return receipt. Spending ~$15 to send a letter gets them noticed. Document everything, have appropriated dates and details at hand and all in one place and keep taking notes as the process advances.
posted by Skorgu at 5:36 AM on December 3, 2007

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