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Know the Laws:

UPDATED June 19, 2017

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Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent, e.g., maintaining total control over financial resources and withholding access to money, are some forms of financial abuse (also called economic abuse). Below is information on how to handle the aftermath of this type of abuse, including dealing with credit card debt and identity theft.

After the abuser has taken your money and/or run up debt in your name

back to topIf someone opened up accounts in my name without my permission, is this identity theft?

Maybe.  If anyone (even a spouse, family member, boyfriend or girlfriend) uses your personal information to open up an account in your name without your permission, this could be considered identify theft. Some examples of personal information that someone might use are your Social Security number, credit card and banking account numbers, usernames, passwords, and patient records.  Fraudulent (dishonest) uses of this information may include opening new credit accounts, taking out loans, stealing money from financial accounts or using available credit.*

Each state law defines identity theft differently.  Some states may call it “identity fraud” or something similar.  The Identity Theft Resource Center links to state-specific government websites that have the laws in each state. You can also find legal resources near you who may be able to help if you have been a victim of identity theft. Click on your state in the Identity Theft Resource Center’s U.S. map to find your local resources.

You can also call the Identify Theft Hotline to speak one-on-one with a counselor at 1-877-ID-THEFT.

To read more about steps you can take if you think you have been the victim of identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission website on identity theft.

* New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

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back to topThe abuser ruined my credit score. Is there anything I can do?

If the abuser has accumulated debt in your name that has not been paid on a timely basis, there are some things you can do to dispute the debt in order to try to repair your credit score.  However, depending on the factors in your specific situation, it may not always be possible to erase debt and to improve your credit score once the damage is done.

You can contact the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center at the contact information below and explain your situation. They should provide you with information about the next steps you can take.

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
Washington, DC 20580
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357);TDD: 1-866-653-4261

Keep in mind that you will most likely be held responsible for the debt on any accounts that you co-signed.  If this describes your situation, please read more under the section Getting your money back and other help.

If the abuser has used your identity to commit fraud (i.e., used your identity to spend on your credit cards, open accounts, etc.), the abuser may have committed identity theft.  Please read If someone opened up accounts in my name without my permission, is this identity theft?

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