Editorial Policy

Expert Q&A: Is My Boyfriend a Credit Card Thief?

Erica Sandberg

June 3, 2011

QDear Credit Guide,
What would you do if you found someone else’s credit cards in your boyfriend’s wallet? They are his ex-girlfriends cards. And he already went to jail for burglary, and when he was a minor he was in jail for vandalism and disorderly conduct. He is 21 now. I am 19. Anne

ADear Anne,
What would I do? Well, first I’d scream, and second I’d run. Then I suppose I’d grab my phone and text him from afar: I mean, why waste real words or letters on this loser?

Look, Anne, there is simply no good reason on the planet that this guy should be in the possession of another person’s credit cards. None. That they are the property of his former girlfriend only makes the situation more chilling. Clearly he’s willing to exploit even someone close to him. His long and confirmed history of illegal behavior locks this case up tight.

This is what I think you should do: Ask Erica

1. Send a message (I’d do this anonymously, but I’m a little cowardly when it comes to the criminal types) to the girl who might be missing her credit cards that you know who has them and specify who it is. It will be up to her to take the next step — like, you know — contacting the police to report a theft.

2. Check your own wallet to see if your credit cards are where they should be. While you’re at it, also make sure your Social Security card, driver’s license and other personal and financial information documents are safe and secure.

3. Log onto your bank and credit card issuer websites and read through all statements carefully, starting from the day you met this guy. Scan them for purchases you didn’t make and cash advances you never took out.

4. Pull your credit reports from all three credit bureaus to make sure everything listed on them is correct. You can do this for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Look for evidence of hard inquiries (those where an application for a loan or line of credit was pursued), fraudulent accounts (those that you never opened) and balances that are unusually high.

5. Report ANY inconsistencies to your bank and credit card companies. Then call the police to file a fraud report. Contact the credit bureaus as well and add a fraud alert to your file. This can prevent the dude from opening any new accounts in your name or increase your credit limit without your permission. The lender will have to verify that you are the person who made the request (usually with a phone call to a number you provide them with) and will deny the action if they can’t be sure it’s you.

You are still very young and will need a good credit history for all sorts of things. For example, you’ll probably want to finance a car, secure an apartment to live in, get a good job or qualify for a really great credit card that comes with a rewards program so you can earn points for free stuff. Identity theft can throw a wrench into all of that, because you’ll have to fight to remove false but negative information from your reports. Don’t make life harder for yourself. Protect your financial affairs to the best of your ability.

Finally, though you aren’t asking for my relationship advice, I’m going to give you some anyway: avoid getting involved with people who have dubious, illicit and violent backgrounds. There are plenty of fishy men in the sea. Go for the ones who don’t already stink.