“The way the laws are set up, they’re geared toward the company that was sending the wrong information,” explains Smith-Valentine. If you notified the company that you were not making the purchases, they should then go after the person who was making the purchases, according to the Fair Credit and Reporting Act. This gives a lawyer grounds to sue the creditors on your behalf.”
At what point should you consider suing your relative?
The hardest part about an ordeal like this is coming to terms with the fact that someone close to and trusted by you would betray you. There may come a point when you’re presented with the prospect of suing your family member—when a creditor, perhaps a utility company, is still trying to hold you accountable for the debt. Most of these cases can be handled in small claims court, depending on the dollar amount. “If you’re going to sue your relative, make sure you have lots of documentation to help show the judge it wasn’t you and that it was your relative,” says Smith-Valentine.
What about laws?
Sadly, it looks like children may continue to fall victim to this type of identity theft. “The problem is, a company runs a person’s social security number and it comes back clean. I don’t know if they’re looking to see, based on the birth date, if that person is 18 or older. That’s why, with cell phones and utilities, [committing this type of identity theft] is a lot easier. There is no law saying a person has to be of a certain age to open an account.”
Remember, when dealing with this matter, time is of the essence—act with urgency. This can be especially difficult because you are dealing with a loved one, but get a grip and create a plan. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to untangle the mess.