College/Living With Debt

“My Mother Took Out Loans In My Name Without Telling Me — Here’s How I’m Dealing With It”

By | Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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Much of the time, we can offer simple explanations for why our financial lives aren’t where we want them to be. Maybe you spent too much going out to eat last month, which meant you had less money left over to put into savings than you would have liked. Maybe you made a simple mistake of applying for and maxing out a credit card when you were a teenager, and you’ve had to work to rebuild your credit score after putting off your payments for too long. Or maybe you simply put off worrying about saving an emergency, and you’re spending a lot of time playing catch-up.

The good news is that misery loves company, and these mistakes apply to so many of us. When the problem has to do with your own money decisions, once you identify what’s wrong, finding a solution can be (theoretically) pretty straightforward. But what do you do when your financial problem didn’t come from your own mistake, but someone else’s?

That’s exactly the case with Ingrid, one of the three TFD readers working with our longtime partners at to help rebuild their credit. Ingrid didn’t find out about student loans her mother had taken out in her name until she was past due on a few payments — and unfortunately, her credit score suffered. Below, she candidly shared her thoughts on finding out about this information she should have had all along, the unexpected stumbling blocks it has presented in her life, and her plan of action going forward.

TFD: Can you explain why your mother took out a loan in your name, as well as why she concealed it from you?

Ingrid: When I was in high school, the question wasn’t “Should I go to college?” but “what college would I go to?” My family didn’t talk about money much, so when I started searching for schools I liked, I didn’t have a number in mind for what we could afford. I ended up picking a private university out of state, which came with a pretty decent price tag, but I got a few scholarships so my family said they could make it happen.

That was pretty much the only conversation we had since they were paying for school (I paid for rent/other living expenses, books, basically everything that wasn’t tuition itself). It’s embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t know what went in to my family paying for college, and I didn’t really have to deal with it. However, things changed after my parents had a nasty divorce which dramatically changed our financial situation.

I know now that my mom took out a parent plus loan in her name, and the rest of the loans in my name. She told me about the parent one, but that was it. She tried to get me to pay her cash on it so she could then deposit it herself. I didn’t believe she would deposit it, and we got into a fight. Then, I found out about the ones in my name. She took out the loan using my name and all my information, but had all of the contact information going to her (which is so scary to me now), so I didn’t even know it existed.

I’m guessing she didn’t tell me because she wanted the ones in her name paid off first. But I think she initially took them out because, let’s be honest, we needed to in order for me to go to school. I don’t know why she didn’t tell me about them even then, though.

What was your initial plan of action when you found out you had missed payments on a loan you didn’t know you had in your name?

My initial plan was to call the loan office and figure out what was happening. I had them change all of the contact information to reflect my own and had them delete my mom’s info. I tried to get them to forgive the late payments, since I didn’t know the loan existed, but they refused.

Have you tweaked your repayment plan to make it more manageable?

I signed up and was approved for an income-based repayment plan, which made my monthly payments lower and didn’t punish me if I couldn’t afford that month.

What has been the most difficult part of dealing with the student loan repayment process for you?

The most difficult part is that I’m literally paying for choices I made when I was 16. There are so many things I know now about good financial habits and choices that I wish I had known when I was younger. I had no idea how personal finances worked when I was a teenager, and I lived in a home where I thought I didn’t have to. So the most difficult part isn’t even the debt or the bad credit score, but knowing that my family knew what was happening and didn’t care to do anything.

How has your experience been working with so far? Have you seen any progress with your credit score?

My experience thus far with has been excellent. I had probably the nicest and most knowledgeable customer service representative I’ve ever spoken to help me set up my account, make a plan, and get things started. Since then, they have emailed me whenever they have taken action and let me know what was happening. My credit score has inched up by a few points, but no dramatic changes yet.

Think could help you? Check it out to learn how they can help you work to repair, build, and maintain your credit score by working directly with the credit bureaus to challenge any items on your credit report, and teaching you how to understand both your own score and the rating system.

Image via Unsplash

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