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Authorized user backfire hurts son's credit score

By Jane McNamara
Published: May 08, 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 CreditCards.com expert

Dear Let's Talk Credit,
In regards to the answer you gave concerning someone's credit being affected by being an authorized user on her mother's account; I also added my son as an authorized user on my retail card account as he was helping us build a deck years ago.

My husband and I both lost our jobs within two weeks of each other and are going through a debt solution company. My son is trying to buy a house and this is showing as negative on his credit report, therefore he may lose a substantial amount of money he has invested. We have done what you suggested as far as trying to get him removed as an authorized user on this account. It has been over 30 days since we requested this and after several attempts by phone, fax, etc., we were told it could take up to 90 days.

How is it that someone can be added as an authorized user by only giving a name in one day, but it can take up to 90 days to remove them? We were told we had no other recourse but to wait. Do you have any suggestions as to who we can contact to get this expedited? Any help would be greatly appreciated. -- Patty

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Patty,
Your son has the option to dispute the account on his credit report with the bureau that is reporting it. As an authorized user on the account, he does not own the account and is not responsible for payment. As such, if he does not want the negative account reported, the credit bureau should honor his request to remove it. In fact, Experian, one of the three major bureaus, automatically removes negative authorized user accounts from its credit reports. However,  your son may want to check his Experian credit report to be sure it has been removed.

Unfortunately, disputing the account with the credit bureaus will also take some time. The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that the credit bureau has 30 days to investigate the dispute before an action must be taken. In some cases the timeframe can be extended to 45 days.

The good news is that because your son is seeking a mortgage loan, he may qualify for what is known as a rapid rescore. Many mortgage lenders offer the service to potential borrowers who have inaccurate information on their credit report that is causing damage to their credit scores. The lender will first verify the information and then submit it to the credit bureaus to be included in the credit report within days. After the information has been updated, a new credit score is calculated. If your son's lender utilizes rapid rescore, it will know right away how much removing the negative authorized user account will help his credit score. Many lenders offer this service for no fee and others will charge a nominal fee for the rapid rescore.

Let's keep talking!

See related: How rapid rescoring improves a credit score

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