Discovering that a family member has opened credit accounts in your name and damaged your credit can be devastating. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to handle this situation:

1. Confirm the Fraud

Review Your Credit Reports

  • Obtain copies of your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can get a free report from each bureau once a year at
  • Look for any unfamiliar accounts, charges, or inquiries.

Check Your Accounts

  • Review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions.
  • Monitor your accounts regularly for unusual activity.

2. Take Immediate Action

Report the Fraud

  • Contact the credit card issuers or lenders where the fraudulent accounts were opened. Inform them of the fraud and request to close or freeze the accounts.
  • File a police report with your local law enforcement agency. This may be necessary for proving the fraud to creditors.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at The FTC will help you create a recovery plan.

Place Fraud Alerts

  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name.
    • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 or Equifax website
    • Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or Experian website
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 or TransUnion website
  • The bureau you contact will notify the other two.

3. Monitor Your Credit

  • Regularly monitor your credit reports to ensure that no new fraudulent activity occurs.

4. Legal Considerations

  • Depending on the severity of the fraud, you may need to consider legal action. Consult with a lawyer to understand your options.
  • Credit attorneys who are well-versed in handling fraud and identity theft issues can often be a great stress free option to fighting these issues.
  • Many consumer lawyers who are experienced in credit issues provide representation at NO COST.
  • Remember that legal action against a family member can have significant personal repercussions, so weigh your options carefully.

5. Prevent Future Fraud

Secure Your Personal Information

  • Keep your personal information, such as Social Security numbers and financial documents, in a secure location.
  • Shred sensitive documents before discarding them.

Educate Your Family

  • Educate your family members about the importance of financial responsibility and the impact of identity theft.
  • Discuss ways to support each other financially without resorting to fraud.


Dealing with identity theft by a family member is challenging, but by taking prompt action, you can mitigate the damage and start rebuilding your credit. Follow the steps outlined in this guide to protect your financial future and prevent further incidents.

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Brent Vullings