How to clear credit of fraudulent card account
To Her Credit
Sally Herigstad is a certified public accountant and the author of "Help! I Can't Pay My Bills: Surviving a Financial Crisis" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). She writes "To Her Credit," a weekly reader Q&A column about issues involving women, credit and debt, for CreditCards.com, and also writes regularly for MSN Money, Interest.com and Bankrate.com, and has guested on Martha Steward Radio and other programs. See her website SallyHerigstad.com
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Dear To Her Credit,
Capital One Bank is claiming my daughter opened a credit
card account when she was 17 years old. We know she did not -- she doesn't even
believe in credit cards. The credit reports are claiming that this account is
We have been fighting with them for over two years to get
this off her credit report with no success. We are both becoming very aggravated.
How can Capital One even issue her a card knowing she was 17, and why won't
they remove it from her credit reports? -- Carol
You are absolutely correct that they cannot hold your
daughter responsible for a card opened when she was 17, especially one that was
apparently opened by someone else. I'm not sure what your tactics for fighting
this fiasco have been over the past two years, but it's time for a new plan.
You have two battles to fight: The debt Capital One says she
owes to them, and the negative mark on your daughter's credit card. Sometimes
people think resolving one issue automatically takes care of the other, but
that's not the case.
Calling on the phone to dispute the account isn't working. If
you can't resolve a problem in one phone call, you generally should start
writing letters instead.
Here are the steps you should take:
First, deal with the credit card company. Call or write to
them and ask them to send a copy of the original credit card application to
you. This will tell you if the signature was forged and if the birth date is
correct. Then, write a letter to Capital One and tell them to stop collection
efforts and stop reporting the account on your daughter's credit reports.
The credit card company must investigate your claim,
according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It must also report your dispute to the credit
You have probably closed the account. Make sure that is
actually the case by looking at your daughter's credit report. She can get her
report at AnnualCreditReport.com, the official site
to help consumers get their free credit report.
If you believe someone opened the account fraudulently, file
a complaint of identity theft with the Federal Trade Commission. You must also file an identity theft
report with your local police department.
Next, clean up the credit report. Send a copy of the letter
you sent Capital One, along with a copy of the fraudulent application, to one
of the credit bureaus. The credit bureau will investigate, usually within 30
days, and is required to notify the other credit bureaus.
Sometimes it takes more than one try to get the attention of
someone who will fix your problem. If you cannot get this resolved with these
steps, you may need to go to a consumer lawyer or a low-cost legal service. You
can also file a credit card complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
the federal consumer protection watchdog agency that launched in July 2011.
After Capital One is squared away and your daughter's credit
history is clear, be sure to keep a watchful eye on credit activity in her
name. If someone stole her identity once, they may try again. She should check
her credit report regularly and look for any activity she doesn't recognize.
I'd put a credit freeze on her report as well. Yes, it will be
harder for her to spontaneously open a credit card at the checkout counter, but
it will also be harder for anyone else to open an account in her name on the
Your daughter got kind of a rough initiation into the world
of credit! With your help, however, she can put it behind her quickly. Good
See related: 5 steps to dispute a debt that's not yours, How to dispute credit report errors
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