Can I sue or take any type of legal action against an estranged family member who used my social security number without my consent?

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Can I sue or take any type of legal action against an estranged family member who used my social security number without my consent?

I was put as a “joint user” by my step-dad for a credit card that I never physically received and/or used. He ended up defaulting on the payments and it eventually went to collections. Soon after he filed bankruptcy leaving me with a $40,000 charged off account that is negatively effecting my credit report. I have been unable to finance my schooling as well as apply for an auto loan. I have never used that card nor would I get approved for such a limit at the age I was when it was opened. I have tried disputing it with the various credit reporting agencies without success.

Asked on August 5, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You should definitely speak with an attorney about this, since you may have some recourse:

1) You may be able to sue your step father for the losses he has caused you. If you prove that you didn't make or authorize those loans, purchases, etc. you should have good grounds.

2) It's not impossible you can get your liablity or responsibilty under the card entirely negated. One person cannot make another responsible for debts. It's one thing if you were simply made an authorized user--someone can let another person use a charge account. But in that case, the first person, not the additional users, is still usually responsible for the charges. To actually be on the account and liable for  it would usually require that you signed an agreement and affirmatively took responsibility. If you can show that you in fact  did not fill out the proper paperwork or agree to accept responsibilty, it may be possible to show that you are not liable.


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