Proof of fraud needed to clean up account

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Dear Bankruptcy Adviser,
OK, my friend is getting ready to go through bankruptcy. And in the past, he was not a very honest person about some things. He took out a credit card in his mother’s name and maxed it out. Three years later, the credit card company is coming after his mother. Is there any way he can get the bill put in his name and off of his mother’s credit report, so he can file bankruptcy on it as well? And in doing that, what kind of issues would he have along the way?
— Ashley

Dear Ashley,
The only victim here is your friend’s mother. Your friend deserves everything that could come his way. Unfortunately, unless she is willing to get him into trouble, she too may be forced into bankruptcy. Don’t expect the lender to transfer the account from her name to his name. That is wishful thinking.

There are numerous steps she must take to claim she was the victim of fraud. And a quick Internet search will give her all the forms she will need. The creditor might also provide the requisite forms.

Typically, creditors are not overzealous about going after someone in small debt cases for fraud.  Large debt cases are more intriguing to creditors for obvious reasons. But unless the son defrauded his mother’s creditors out of large sums of money, he is likely to get away with his horrible conduct.

His mother needs to file fraud affidavits with each of the creditors, which in most cases, may require that she file a police report. She must be willing to prosecute her son criminally if she wanted to get her name removed from those credit cards. This sounds more intimidating than it might actually be.

She is claiming that she had no knowledge that each account had been opened and that she knows who opened these accounts. The lenders have the right to go after her son, but it is more likely that the lender might simply remove the account from her credit report.

If the lender decides to start going after her son for fraud, she will need to cooperate with the creditor in the investigation that follows. Otherwise, the creditor has no idea that her son committed fraud. The creditor might easily claim that she knowingly allowed him to open accounts in her name and use those accounts so long as he made the payments. This is very common, as is the subsequent abuse of that offer.

The burden of proof is his mother’s responsibility. She has options since you imply that she had no idea about the accounts. She should be able to eliminate her liability. For example, if the billing address is different than her primary residence address then she can provide evidence that she never received statements. Therefore, she had no idea about the accounts.

Regardless, the burden is on his mother and she must be willing to handle this accordingly, or she will still be liable for the debt.