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Help! Mom trashed my credit

By Jane McNamara
Published: March 06, 2014

Let's Talk Credit
Let's Talk Credit columnist Jane E. McNamara
Jane E. McNamara is president and chief executive officer of GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nationwide, not-for-profit, providing financial literacy through consumer education and counseling for more than 50 years. For financial literacy tips and assistance visit GreenPath on Facebook or YouTube.
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Question for the expert

Dear Let's Talk Credit,
My mother put me as an authorized user and gave me a credit card. I never used it. Now she is not able to pay and the account has been past due for over a year. It shows on my credit report. I have a low credit score and can't get a job that requires security clearance. I never signed for the card. What can I do to remove this from my report? I have lost two great job opportunities because of this. -- Maria.

Answer for the expert

Dear Maria,
I am sorry that your credit has prevented you from two great job opportunities. This is an example of how your credit report and score can affect much more than your ability to receive new credit. It can also affect employment, leasing an apartment and the rates you pay for some insurance.

The good news for you is your problem should be easy to resolve. As an authorized user, you have no responsibility for payment on the account. Therefore, the card issuer will remove your name from the account, if it is requested. Many card issuers will remove your name from the account if you call and make the request. Should you find that this card issuer is unwilling to make the change for you because you are an authorized user and not the account owner, ask your mother to make the request for you.

Once your name is removed from the account, the card issuer will no longer supply information to the credit reporting bureaus, and the account will eventually be removed from your report. If you want to speed the process along once your name has been removed from the account by the card issuer, you can dispute the account with the credit reporting bureaus. File a dispute online as, "not my account." The credit bureau will request information from the card issuer and will find that the account is indeed not yours, and then the bureau will remove it. Give it 30 days from the time of dispute and then check your credit reports via to assure that the account has been removed.

Keep in mind that if you have other accurate negative accounts on your credit report, removing this authorized user account may not improve your credit as much as you would like.

Readers in this situation should take a proactive approach when job interviewing. Let your prospective employer know what will be found on your credit report, before it is reviewed. An explanation may help prevent your credit information from automatically having you removed from consideration.

Let's keep talking!

See related: Mom's credit card default hurts son's credit, Daughter's credit in trouble after mom defaults on shared card

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