My Mom Used My Credit Card And Racked Up $8000 In Debt. What Should I Do?

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Here’s an email we got recently :

Mr. Credit Card

I am so confused on what if anything that I can do about my situation. When I first turned 18 I applied for a credit card, and got approved. I did not know about this credit card until one day my mom came crying to me that she thought I called to tell them it was stolen… but really it was her that was using it. After giving me this long sob story I – stupidly – agreed to make her able to use the card. She promised to make the payments, turns out you can’t even trust your mother! Now I am in debt $8,000! I have no idea what if anything I can do. Please if you have any advice!!

Crystal Smith

Answer: Crystal, looks like Mom has broken your trust. I have to ask you a couple of questions first.

I would assume that you approved Mom to be an authorized user of your credit card and she is not a joint account holder. If this is indeed the case, then all you have to do is to remove your Mom as an authorized user and she will not be able to use the card in future. I would suggest having a word with her first and confront her. You will have to tell her that what she did was unacceptable and that you would have to remove her as an authorized user. Here is an action plan.

1. Set a Budget and a Payment Plan

I would assume that you are not able to pay off the $8,000 at once. You said you were 18 years old when you got the card, but I do not know how old are you now or whether you are in college now or are you working and earning some income. What you should now do is to set up a budget, look at your income and expenses and figure out a payment plan that will eliminate this $8,000 in credit card debt. You may have to cut back on some spending. But what you want to avoid is having to just pay the minimum.

You can use this calculator from CNN to help you figure out a realistic time frame to pay off the debt

to figure out how long it takes to repay your credit card debt.

You may have to make some sacrifices and work part-time if you are at school. Or work more if you are already working part-time.

2. Explore Balance Transfer Opportunities – You did not mention what rate you are paying on your card. I also do not know your credit scores. But definitely explore 0% balance transfer credit card deals. They will help you save on interest payments and your cash flow in your quest to eliminate this credit card debt.

3. Confront Your Mom

Once you figure out a plan, I would then confront your mom and at the end, ask her if she would bear some burden in your payment plan. Ask, but be realistic and do not expect anything.

I would be firm with your Mom and tell her how disappointed you are, but also be nice (in the sense that this should not turn into a shouting match). Bear in mind that what she did was wrong. She should never have been using your credit card (she should have got her own). She has broken her promise not to pay. You also have not told us about her situation : what does she do? how much does she make? Can she afford to pay?

4. Try to Get Refunds

There are other things you can do. For example, find out what has your mom been ing. Has she made any impulse purchases within the last month (like BowFlex on QVC). If you has bought some high ticket items within the last 30 days, you may be able to return and get a refund (especially for late night infomercial products).

5. Remove her as an authorized user

I’ll leave it to you whether to do this before you speak to her or after, but either way, this has to be done (IMO).

To summarize, here are your actions steps :

  • Set a budget
  • Come up with a plan to pay off your credit card debt. You use use some online calculators like this one from CNN to help you figure out a realistic time frame to pay off the debt
  • Explore Balance Transfer Opportunities
  • Sit down with your Mom – tell her how disappointed you are and that you are now stuck with this $8,000 in credit card debt
  • Show her your plan and ask if you would help – I would not count on it though
  • Tell her that you would have to remove her as an authorized user and ask her to get her own credit card (BTW – you can recommend my site!)
  • Sometimes life sucks and things happen. Stay focused. You need a plan to reduce this debt, stop the problem and move on. And also learn your lesson. If you are still in college, you may have to work part-time and if you are already, you may have to put in more hours. Remember, at the end of the day, it is your credit. Your credit score will affect whether you can rent, get an auto loan when you decided to a car and even affect your employment prospects. Pay off the debt ASAP and move on.

    Oh – one more thing. You did not mention this in your mail (and I do not know your entire situation), but would speaking to your father about this help?

    Anyway, hope this helps. Good Luck.

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    3 Responses to “My Mom Used My Credit Card And Racked Up $8000 In Debt. What Should I Do?”

    1. Neil Says:

      Hi

      This is such a difficult situation. I agree with all the advice given above. What makes it so difficult is the need to preserve a relationship with your mom whilst also letting her know that what she has done is not acceptable.

      The only thing I would add is possibly trying to find out if there is any issues that your mom is dealing with that have contributed to this situation. This wouldn’t make it right, but might help you to understand and also help prevent your mom getting into any similar situations with credit in the future.

      Neil

    2. sue mccartin Says:

      I guess I’m just a cold hearted SOB but if anyone in my family, mother or not, used my credit card and put me in debt I’d be suing their panties off over and it getting a judgment and a lien on their house and anything else I could go after. If she used your card before she was a authorized user that is no less than fraud, sorry mom needs to go have an encounter with the legal system. Just because she raised you doesn’t entitle her to saddle you with a pile of debt. I disagree with the other comments on here, if she fraudulently used your card why should you have to pay it back? You are most likely still young, which is why she seems to be getting away with this. If you’ve got other siblings I hope you’ve warned them about “mother’s antics” if she’s done it to you, she’s probably got other victims too. I’ve got friends whose parents fraudulently use their social security numbers for fraud and turning on the phone when they can’t get one in their own name etc….fraud is fraud whether a relative does it or some scum that stole your info off a computer breakin. What goes around comes around…mommy needs a lesson.

    3. Jayne Says:

      Hi
      Just read your email. First, ring the credit card company and ask them to stop your interest for 3-6 months they will do this for you.
      Set up a payment plan, please do this. Ask your Mom to pay the debt back on a paymnet plan and tell your Dad. If Mom doesnt pay it you will have to do it yourself, the credit card company will help with a realistic plan, so dont fret and be consistant with the payments but dont panic if your occassionaly late just start again.Please follow the advice above from other people who commented. good luck.
      dont forget you can do it. just keep believing you can.

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