Sometimes we have to make a tough decision to hold our parents accountable for their actions.
But is there a boundary on how much our parents can infringe upon us, their children.
Redditor i-red-that-won faced that question as she took to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” to see if she’d made the right choice when she felt infringed upon.
“AITA for filing a police report on my mother?”
Our original poster, or OP found out that her mother had weaseled her way out of a bad situation by throwing her daughter under the bus.
“Quick backstory, when I was (15?) my mom took my SIN and hooked up cable under my name and racked up the bill and left it to later reflect on my credit bureau.”
“Fast forward this year I’m getting calls from a collection agency saying that I owe $1800 for cable/internet from 2014, I say I have no clue what they are talking about and ask the address/phone number and voila it is my mothers address and phone number.”
After initially denying it, OP’s mom fessed up.
“I call her, she lies for a couple weeks about it but eventually says she did do it but ‘I always wanted to give you and your sister what you wanted and couldn’t afford to maintain the bills I’m sorry’ blah blah insert gaslighting and her being manipulative and making me feel like crap about it.”
And now mom has left OP in between a rock and a hard place.
“The collections agency is now saying I have to make a police report stating fraud in order to get this off my credit bureau, my mom is texting me paragraphs saying how she’s going to go to jail and that my young sister won’t have anyone to take care of her blah blah.”
Before she can go forward with it, OP needs to know she can do the right thing.
“Am I an a**hole for making the police report? My credit is really important to me and she’s making me feel like a** for even considering doing that.”
Reddit decided where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Reddit agreed that OP was making the right choice for her future.
“NTA however everyone who is saying they won’t take her to jail for identity theft, are crazy. Over 999$ is a felony, and if she has any priors they can and will put her in jail. Keep that in mind because the people saying she won’t go to jail are probably wrong.”~squidnie650
“NTA. But can I suggest something else?”
“As a former loan officer and working in banking for 15 years I will tell you crappy parents do this to their children all the time and will continue to do so as long as they can get away with it.”
“I echo the sentiments of other posters that said to not trust debt collection agencies because they bought that debt and want their money back.”
“What OP needs to do (assuming OP is based in the USA) is:”
“-Add a Fraud Alert to the credit report at all three credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. It means no new credit can be opened under her name and SSN without the lender contacting her at a phone number she provides the credit bureaus. So if mom gets shady again, she will be stopped. Assuming mom doesn’t have OP’s phone.”
“-Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to get her free credit reports that she is legally entitled to (FYI everyone with a SSN is allowed to get their credit report from each credit bureau once a year)”
“-Review the credit reports and find anything that’s not hers (this includes other debts and possibly information like phone and address) and dispute them through the credit bureaus. Disputes will prove she was a minor when these occurred and should be removed.”
“-Rebuild credit by opening a secured credit card. What that is, is a credit card backed by a savings account OP opened. So for example her credit union will give her a credit card with a $500 limit. Then OP has to open a savings account and deposit $500 that cannot be touched. After a two years (sometimes less) OP can then close out that savings and take the cash back and be left with just the credit card. In the event OP is bad at paying back the card, the credit union will use the money in the savings to pay off the card balance, and then close it.”~Mission_Spray
“I don’t fully understand the legal implications but I do know you should never accept legal advice from a debt collector. FULL STOP. It’s like the police, they don’t have your best interest at heart. This may not be the only option. For example contacts signed by minors are voidable. Talk to a lawyer not the debt collector. Obviously your mom did a sh*tty thing, but having her arrested on the advise of a stranger with opposing interests is not a good idea. ESH.”~asami47
“NTA. Lawyer here, but not your lawyer. Is SIN a typo for SSN? If it is, and if you are in the US…consider the following possibilities, but your own attorney because I’m speaking generally.”
“Minors cannot make contracts. If you were 15 when your mom did this, company may be out of luck. Shouldn’t matter that they didn’t know they were contracting with a minor.”
“They may be past the statute of limitations, in which case they are also screwed. Different scenario. When did you turn 18? Assuming a statute of limitations of three years after you turned 18, they may be screwed.”
“Lots of times companies will attempt to collect even if they know that can’t do it legally. Suggest you cross post in r/legaladvice to get other opinions.”~Gregorfunkenb
Though one major standout piece of advice across the board—do not take legal advice from a debt collector.
“NTA but before you do anything you need to contact equifax or TransUnion to get a copy of your credit report. They will send you this in the mail for free. Then once you get it you need to recontact them and ask them what you need to do to remove the entries that are there as a result of fraudulent activity. Do not take advice from some dude at a collection agency.”~curmudgeonchief
“NTA – The first thing to do is pull your credit report. If she used your information to get cable, it is very possible that she used it for other things as well. You need to know how big of a problem you have before you decide how to handle it.”
“Next think about your relationship with your mom. After this do you want a relationship with her? What about the rest of your family.”
“Think about what you need in the short term financially. By short term I am thinking 3 to 5 years. Do you need to get a car loan any time soon? What about a house loan? What kind of job are you looking to get (some will pull your credit report). Are you wanting to rent an apartment alone?”
“As long as this is on your credit report as unpaid and even if you pay it off this will affect you. You will not be able to get loans and if you do the interest you will have to pay will be considerably more than other people have to pay. Landlords might not be willing to rent to you. You might have to pay more for car insurance. It can, depending on the type of job, prevent you from getting a job. Are you willing to be okay with that?”
“On the other hand if you file a police report, those problems go away. Assuming this is your mom’s first offense, it is unlikely she will go to jail but it is possible. She will definitely be in trouble which can include fines or community service. The odds are she will blame you for this and might very well be able to convince the rest of your family that you are the bad guy here. After all she is “family” (didn’t stop her from doing this in the first place though, but logic rarely has a place in these things). Are you willing to lose your relationship with her?”
“No matter what you decide, you are not wrong. It’s a horrible position to be in. I’m sorry you are facing that.”~RedditDK2
“NTA but before you make a police report id seek advice from someone qualified. The collection agency only care about getting their money. They don’t care about your credit score or your mother or anything.”
“Not sure where best to go for advice. A tax accountant? A lawyer? Not sure.”~henchwench89
“You were a minor and could not legally enter into any contracts. Don’t always believe collection agencies…they lie sometimes. Usually after 7 years the bill they’re trying to collect expires anyway and unless you’re dumb enough to assume the debt that’s not even yours by paying on it, it shouldn’t even be on your credit next year anyway.”
“I’m NOT defending your mom or what she did, just saying by law you have the right to demand (in writing) that they prove the bill is yours (which it’s not) and if they can’t do that in 30 days, you can tell the credit bureau to remove it. You have to file a formal complaint that the debt is not yours to the credit agencies (there’s 3 main ones). I’d hate for you to listen to the collection agency and they trick you into doing something that will keep it on your credit for another 7 years.”
“Collections agencies buy debt and the original debtor has already written most of it off. There’s no need to put your mom in jail or report it even though what she did was dead wrong. It’s not going to help like you think it will as far as your credit and may make establishing your own credit harder by having a fraud alert on your name.”
“If you’re sure she won’t do it again, focus on establishing good credit and this will soon be off your record. You’ve got every right to be mad, but focus on fixing this the right way. Don’t communicate with the collection agencies anymore, just talk to the credit reporting agencies and contest in writing the charges that are on there. The fact you were a minor should make this pretty easy to establish this was not your debt and have it removed.”~BernieTheDachshund
Though, Redditors are not sympathetic toward mom either.
OP has been put in a really tough position with people yelling at her from both sides.
“My mom racked up 8 grand in my name. I had no idea until a federal agent showed up at my job asking me why I never paid on a loan (I’m a government contractor. Not paying bills a serious no-no). Loan went to two different collection agencies, I couldn’t get the original loan paperwork. Collection agencies sometime buy loans from companies.”
“Word to the wise, DON’T pay on it. Yes, do get a fraud report. Little known fact, if you don’t pay on it, after 7 years the loan goes away. My credit report was totally clear after 7 years. Do get a credit check on yourself periodically. This way you won’t get blind sided. I’m sorry this happened to you. It does suck when people you trust screw you over. NTA”~capricorn40
“NTA. If you live in US and are a minor (under 18) you cannot sign a legal contract that requires payment. That contract is unenforceable.”
“Also, any collection calls in US you have the right to tell them DO NOT CALL me any more. They can then choose to take you to court (unlikely, see above) or give up. You are not liable for this debt. And you have the right to post a statement to the Credit Bureaus that you are not the person listed on this claim.”
“You COULD file a fraud claim, but that is not necessary.”~wilburstiltskin
“My sister took my credit and destroyed it. 35k for me alone. It has been hell. I did prosecute her ( for many many other reasons including the fact she took my drivers license) and I still feel guilt like you would never believe. It has weighed on me for the two years since I have gone NC with her and bio mom.”
“I sometimes cry myself to sleep over it. But I do not regret it. Actions have consequences. I cry over being the one to pull the trigger, but if I didn’t I would not be where I am now. If you do this, know that either way, she did wrong you. And either way, you cannot let her actions destroy your life.”~cutely-insane
“Just came on to say 1. NTA if you report to the police and she gets arrested, that’s entirely her fault. and 2. If you’re based in the US, you can file that it isn’t your debt and the collection agency has 30 days to prove it is in fact yours (which often times they can’t because in purchasing the debt they misplaced/never got the original paperwork, or they just don’t get around to it).”
“I’m not proud to say I’ve done it a few times with unpaid debt I got myself into and it was removed from my credit report way before the 7 year mark. to add: please don’t come for me for doing what I did, it wasn’t right and I wouldn’t do it again, just mentioning it so OP has an option aside from reporting mom to the police.”~logicalideals
Thankfully it seems like OP doesn’t need to send her mother to prison, per se, but none of this is OP’s fault and some of Reddit even understands if she chose to have her mother arrested.
The complex and dizzying system of profiting off of debt may actually come to OP’s rescue, in this case, as she will not be liable for this debt.
May all these stories have such fortunate endings.