Forging hubby's signature on a card application
She made herself an authorized user, then fell behind on payments
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,
I opened a credit card in my husband's name, with me as the
authorized user. I forged his signature on the application. He was unaware of
this and now it's affecting his credit negatively because I've fallen behind on
the payments. What can I do to remove this from his credit? -- Dani
There's precious little you can do to simply remove this
from your husband's credit record at this point, I'm afraid.
You've already got three strikes against you:
You forged a signature. What spouse hasn't forged a
signature at some time for expediency's sake? No admissions here, but sometimes
it's no big deal. If you're going to forge a signature, however, don't do it on
an income tax return or an application for credit. Ever.
You didn't tell your husband. The fact that you didn't
tell him indicates that it was more than just forging his signature because he
happened to be at work. You deliberately applied for credit in his name, behind
his back. That's fraud.
- You didn't keep up with the payments.
You can't go to the credit card company now and say,
"Oh, I want to take my husband off this card." You can close the card
so no more purchases can be made, which is probably a good idea. But the damage
If your husband discovered this when he checked his credit
report, he's probably upset -- and justifiably so. To show that you're sorry,
you need to make amends. The best way to do that is to catch up on the
payments, and then pay off the balance as quickly as possible. I don't mean
make the minimum payments for the next 10 years or make extra payments when you
have the money. To get rid of this debt, you need to concentrate your full
energies on it until it's gone.
Think of this debt payoff plan as a sprint. You're going to
do things you couldn't do long term, you're going to live in a style you
wouldn't find comfortable very long, but you're going to pay off this debt
faster than you ever thought possible. Here's how:
- Work more. Take more hours on at work, if possible. Work
evenings and weekends, even if it's delivering pizzas, cleaning houses or
babysitting. Every dollar goes to paying down debt.
- Stop spending. No manicures, eating out, clothes or
movies. You don't have time, anyway, with all this extra work.
- Sell something. If you bought things with the credit card,
some of it may still be returnable. Look around for things of yours that you
can sell. Have a garage sale or sell things online.
This may seem hard, but it's not forever. You made a
mistake, but almost all mistakes in life can be fixed if you work hard enough.
Your husband's credit score will improve when the account is current, and it
will be even better when it is paid in full. In time, this account will matter
less and less on his credit history until it disappears altogether.
See related: Dealing with a spouse's secret credit card debt, Whos pays secret debt in divorce
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Published: November 8, 2013