This question comes up almost daily in my office when meeting with prospective clients. If a spouse, parent, or friend listed you as an authorized user on their credit card account and then either party files for bankruptcy who can the creditor pursue for the balance?
Adding a family member or friend as an authorized user on an existing credit card account has long been used as a way to establish credit. Many parents added their children as authorized users in order to help them build their credit history.
What is an authorized user account?
Credit card issuers will allow customers to add other people to the account as an “authorized user” without running a credit check. The authorized user can then use the credit card and will have the account record appear on their credit report. The authorized user has no liability for the payments. Fair Isaac has reported that 30% of the population has an authorized user account listed on their credit reports.
Credit Card Collections in Georgia
Credit accounts that you will see listed on your credit report will either say:
1. Individual account
2. Joint account
3. authorized user
If your account is listed as either an individual account or joint account then yes the creditor can pursue you (unless you file for bankruptcy). If you are only an authorized user however the creditor CANNOT collect against you for the debt since you are only a user on the account and have not signed on the account for joint responsibility.
The problem that we see many times if that creditors will become very aggressive and tell consumers that they are responsible for the debt when in fact they are not. The most obnoxious form of collection is when someone dies and the creditor pursues the surviving spouse or family.
According to section 603 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), only information on credit issued to a consumer is allowed. If you are an authorized user, you do not fall under these categories, you are not responsible for the debt and did not receive credit. An authorized user doesn’t have credit on this account and it’s only the Signor that is responsible.
How Do You Remove Yourself As An Authorized User?
I always advise clients to remove any friends or family members as authorized users from their accounts BEFORE they file for bankruptcy. It will mean less hassle in the long run and allow our client to proceed with filing bankruptcy without any additional stress.
If you are listed as an authorized user, you may contact the credit card company and request to have your name taken off the account. Because an authorized user is not responsible for making payments on an account, they normally remove you from the account upon request. You would want to do the request on the phone and in writing however to ensure that your request is documented.
Lastly, make sure you also send in a dispute to the credit reporting agency to remove the account from your profile as well to ensure that no additional account information is posted to your account.
LORENA SAEDI IS A CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY WITH OFFICES IS ATLANTA, MARIETTA, JONESBORO, DULUTH, GAINESVILLE, DOUGLASVILLE, DECATUR, AND NORCROSS GEORGIA. IF YOU ARE HAVING DEBT PROBLEMS CONTACT SAEDI LAW GROUP TODAY ABOUT CHAPTER 7 AND CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY OPTIONS.