Help! My sneaky sis used my credit card, damaged my credit
Tough choice: silently suffer or rat out a relative
Let's Talk Credit
Dear Let's Talk Credit,
My sister used my credit card without my knowledge. I had
stopped using the card and was unaware she was using it. She did not pay on time each
month and now that I am trying to buy a house, the late payments are affecting
my credit score. (The account is now current). Is there anything I can do to
get her activity with my card off of my credit report? -- Renee
Even though you did not use the card, you are still
responsible because the account is in your name. The only way to prevent your
sister's negative activity from appearing on your credit report is to report
the activity as fraud. This would remove the negative activity, but it would
also involve the police and cause obvious legal problems for your sister. You may
not want to do that.
You have already started repairing the damage to your credit
by making the necessary payments to bring the account current. Even though the
late payments are affecting your credit score, mortgage lenders will be looking
to be sure you did pay what was owed eventually.
Your credit score will improve as you continue to make
payments on time and as agreed each month.
As more time passes, the late payments will have less impact on your
credit score. After seven years, the late payments will disappear from your
credit report altogether.
Also, consider contacting the credit bureaus to submit a
100-word statement that will appear in your credit report.
You can explain that the late payments were a result of your sister
using the card without your knowledge. The statement won't increase your score, but it may help your case with
Another possible option is to hold off on the home purchase for a
couple of years to allow your credit score time to bounce back from the late
payments. If you are purchasing the home with your spouse, you might also
consider applying for a mortgage in your partner's name only. However, you may
not qualify for the home if you apply for a mortgage using only your partner's
Be sure to read all correspondence from your creditors. That will help you identify unwanted use
within the first month. You might also
consider checking your inactive accounts online each month, or setting up
alerts on your smartphone that would let you know of any activity on your
Let's keep talking!
See related: What to do when family members use your credit cards,
How to cope with massive family fraud
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Published: May 2, 2013