One of our readers, KR, had this question for us:
I tried to call the credit card companies (my ex put me on 5 of his cards) to have myself removed as an authorized user (something I never agreed to or knew about until it was too late) and they refused to take me off/talk to me.
They said he would have to remove me, which of course is not going to happen being as he is my EX. It’s totally trashing my credit as he has over 60k in debt. Is there anything I can do about this short of getting a lawyer?
Hi KR, thanks for your question. This is a difficult situation, and there really is no easy solution. However, there are a few things you can do to try to get your name off of those accounts, and to prevent them from trashing your credit.
Here’s the best procedure for removing yourself as an authorized user from someone else’s account:
- Call the credit card companies back - Stay calm, and whatever you do, get yourself transfered to a manager, not normal customer service rep. You may have to call back multiple times until you find someone willing to help you. Keep repeating that you did not authorize him to put your name on these accounts. That is identity theft, and they will be liable for your losses or lack of ability to get credit.
Tell them you have no problem suing them if they do not remove your name, and remove the information from your credit report. Make sure you don’t get too emotional to negotiate – just keep yourself cool, and keep repeating that it is a case of identity theft, and that you must speak with a manager to resolve the situation.
- Send certified letters to the credit card companies - If a phone call to this effect does not work, send the various credit card companies certified letters stating that you never authorized your name to be put on these accounts. If you get no response to the letters, you can call them back, state that you have sent them a certified letter telling them about the problem, and that you have the receipt that shows they received the letter.
Freely tell them that you are building a case against them in court. Even if a lawsuit would never fly, it should be much easier for them to just remove your name than be held responsible. Make sure you get the names and operator numbers of anyone you speak to.
- Get a lawyer - You can certainly get a lawyer as a last resort. Your ex will have to drag himself into court and resolve the issue.
- Challenge the items on your credit report -This is one thing that you can do right away. You can go online to the three major credit bureaus and challenge those authorized user accounts on all three of your credit reports. You can cite identity theft as a reason.
Also, there is a small statute in the Fair Credit Reporting Act that states that your credit report can only be made up of your credit history, and not someone else’s. People do frequently use this as a reason to have authorized user accounts removed from their credit reports. FICO has only recently decided to start including authorized user accounts in their credit score formula again, and you definitely do not want your ex husband’s accounts messing with your credit score!
I’d like to give you a few links here, that will help you get started.
The three main credit bureaus, where you can challenge your credit report, and get those accounts removed:
Here is an in-depth walk through on “How to Challenge Items On Your Credit Report“. You can download a step by step guide at the bottom of the post.
If you are requesting copies of your credit reports because you intend to challenge bad information, you should be able to get all three of your credit reports immediately by going online. Normally I would send you to Annual Credit Report.com because it walks you through the process of getting your reports from each bureau. But, you have to deal with the individual bureaus to challenge information, so it’s probably best to just start there instead.
The information on the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) statute: click here.
A sample letter / authorized user removal request (PDF) that you can send to your husband’s credit card companies. There are several sample letters here. The best is the one near the bottom of page 8 (the last page.)
Thank you very much for your question, I know it will help others out there in the same boat. I wish you the best of luck as you work to get your own credit reports cleaned up, and I hope that you get everything resolved quickly!
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