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About Abuse

Financial Abuse

February 24, 2021

If someone opened up accounts in my name without my permission, is this identity theft?

If anyone, including a spouse, family member, or intimate partner, 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 uses of this information may include opening new credit accounts, taking out loans, stealing money from financial accounts or using available credit.1

Each state law defines identity theft differently. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists the statutory citation for identity theft laws in each state. However, to read the actual language of the law, you’d have to Google the statutory citation for your state. If you have been a victim of identity theft, the Identity Theft Resource Center may have helpful information. Note: WomensLaw.org is not affiliated with either website and cannot vouch for their services; we provide this for your information only.

You can also report identity theft to the police or through the Federal Trade Commission website on identity theft or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). To read more about steps you can take if you think you have been the victim of identity theft, visit the federal government’s website.

1New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

The 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, this will likely affect your credit negatively. However, depending on the factors in your specific situation, it may be possible to challenge some of the debt or to take steps to improve your credit score to try to undo some of the damage. You may want to reach out to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a nonprofit organization for more information and other ideas, tips, and strategies. Be wary of ever paying for credit counseling or repair since those can often be fraudulent. Going with a non-profit credit counseling organization is generally recommended by advocates in the field. Note: WomensLaw is not affiliated with this organization and cannot vouch for their services.

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 Getting your money back and other help section.

If the abuser has used your identity to commit fraud, the abuser may have committed identity theft. Please read If someone opened up accounts in my name without my permission, is this identity theft?