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My Stolen Identity

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

We moved to our current home right in the middle of the bursting housing bubble and financing this place would not have been possible if not for the kindness of a friend of my husbands. No bank would have financed us because we were underwater in the old house but our friend agreed to hold the note for 5 years until the nation was able to get out of the terrible situation the Republicans and Bankers had created for us. Because of his generosity in financing the new house personally we were able to keep our old house until we would be able to sell it, which we thought would only be a few years until the economy improved. The economy is doing much better these days thanks to the hard work of President Obama with the record high job growths and the likes (of course Madman Trump will get credit if things improve and Obama will be blamed if they take a turn for the worse which is what I predict with the Orange Hitler in power) but the housing industry is still more or less in the dumps, the old house is still valued at about $30K less than we owe so we are forced to keep it and continue to rent it, and in the meantime it is becoming terribly neglected and run down by the quality of tenants we keep getting so barely being able to afford the mortgage we can’t afford to make many repairs, like a new roof that it so desperately needs.

 

Shortly after we moved into this house, approximately 8 years ago my husband was once again handling our finances. It was a huge mistake letting him handle things again (just like he’s handling it now, as I write this blog, and believe me I sweat it out every day as to whether things are truly being paid or if he’s just telling me they are being paid so I’m hearing what he thinks I want to hear, I keep waiting for the day when I walk back into the house and find his sister sipping a vodka and coke, telling me to shut up while she tells me the important news that we will be sleeping on the gutter within a week).

 

It was during this time he had his first heart attack and ended up being hospitalized. In the emergency room I was told that his situation was very bad and that he might die, that over 8 people were working on his and later they flew him by helicopter to a better equipped hospital. I was emotionally exhausted. I didn't know what to do as I was dealing with the notion of facing a life alone. Things didn’t seem like they could get any worse with him lying in a hospital bed but then I started getting the mail and for the first time, the mail he usually intercepted arriving home from work before me (at that time he was still working) I started seeing some of the bills that he had been hiding from me. Every credit card bill (and there were a lot) and it seemed like every card was either maxed out or close to being maxed. A few of them were late and not only were payments due, but past due charges and late fees were being added (not to mention the interest) One particular card was so far behind the minimum payment was I believe in the area of $700.

 

I had no idea that we were in such bad shape. What made things worse was that I didn’t even know about this card. I had never seen it before nor had I approved it but it was in my name, so now not only was my husband not paying our bills and maxing our credit but he was stealing my identity too. Now mind you we have been living comfortably, going out to dinner, socializing at bars with our friends, buying things we didn’t need and so on, so I'm not saying that I was not at fault for spending money but also had no idea that we were in such dire straits financially, I actually thought (stupidly) that we were doing good in life and the way we were living was one of the rewards for FINALLY being successful. But his heart attack and hospital stay forced me to face the truth, no longer did I have this buffer that kept me from reality. And since we weren’t legally married my husband had no right to be obtaining credit in my name but here he was with not just one but two cards I had never authorized. Again he was literally stealing my identity. His personal credit had never been fixed since the bankruptcy to save our first house but mine had been because I was making more money and handling the bills for a period between the bankruptcy debacle and the situation we now faced. As I maintained our finances I focused on making sure that at least one of us was financially responsible. He tried to use on of those services that consolidated his bills but it turns out they were a rip off scheme and the money he had paid them that was supposed to build up to negotiate with his creditors simply disappeared, nothing was ever paid so now credit wise he was even in a worse situation than before he used that service. After we got to a state where we were okay he took over the finance again, when I handed everything back over to him we not only had money in the bank but all my credit  cards had a zero or near zero balance, but since taking over he went overboard again, he just couldn’t stop. Instead of telling me “We can’t go out and eat tonight because we can’t afford it” he was using my name to buy and spend with no regard that one day Peter would be so broke that we would have to start defaulting on Paul.

 

I remember my heart sinking as I looked at this maxed out $10,000.00 credit card, a card I knew nothing about, that was past due with a late fee and a fine assessed and I knew there was no way that we could ever get out of this debt without filing bankruptcy again and we also had to keep in mind that my credit had to be perfect so that 5 years down the road I would be able to get financing so we could actually buy the house we were living in (recall from earlier that my husband’s friend was financing the place at a personal risk based on the fact that we would obtain financing from a financial institution at the end of the 5 years.) and then I discovered there was a second unauthorized credit card that had also exceeded its credit limit thanks to fees and late charges.

 

I didn’t know what to do, I thought my life was over at that point, my husband was lying in a hospital bed where just hours before I was told he would probably die and now I find out I am in unimaginable debt. Through tears I picked up the phone and called the credit card company for the bill I was holding. As I said the minimum payment at this point was over $700 per month and it was already past due by about $1,500. I didn’t dare tell the person on the other phone that my husband (then partner… remember marriage wasn’t legal by this point) had literally stolen my identity. (I am still angry that he did this without my knowledge but as I said, I got to enjoy in the fruits of that debt, despite my not knowing where the funds were coming from, I really thought we were just doing very well financially so even though he was charging everything and putting us further and further in debtor’s prison I was right there spending the money with him) When we went out to eat or socialized with friends I always had that extra cocktail or two adding another $20 to 30 to our meal and would be careless in other similar ways but unlike my husband I am not a shopaholic. He will buy stuff just because it’s on sale or has a good price on it and if it’s a really good price he will buy all that they have.

 

Crying, I explained to the woman at the credit card company my husband had just had a heart attack and he handles our money. I told her I had no idea we were so far in debt (not mentioning he had obtained the credit illegally, I certainly did not want him to go to jail as soon as he got out of the hospital).

 

My husband’s credit was ruined because between his first bankruptcy and now he had filed a second bankruptcy, again I didn’t know about it, because of the consolidation service he had used. He did it behind my back and he really didn’t have a care in the world because he was now being me whenever he went shopping or paid for our dinner. I found out about his second bankruptcy through this horrible process of facing an unimaginable debt that he had filed again, and did so as soon as he was legally able because the people were supposed to help him re-establish his credit only ruined it further. So here he was systematically ruining my credit at the same time.

 

I pleaded with the card company asking them what if anything could I possibly do? We were late and late fees and fines being mounted. The lady on the other end of the line sympathized with me and was kind enough to lower my interest rate from something like 29% down to I think it was 8% or 12% (I can’t really remember anymore but it was more that half of what it originally was. She said they would suspend the interest and fees for six months if I could make the payments for duration (on time) they would restore the credit card. I told her that I didn’t want the credit card, and in fact as soon as I got my hand on it, I was sure it was in my husband’s wallet) I would be cutting it up.

 

With my husband was in the hospital and I took over the bills and for the first time since I had corrected everything from the previous mess he had put us in things started to get straightened out. Using an Excel spreadsheet I started managing everything and I paid every account weekly, not monthly. I know it might sound silly to some people but what I did was I would take our electric bill, for example, and I would multiply it by 12 and then divided by 52 and that would give me a weekly payment and then what I would do is round it up whatever the payment would be to the nearest $5 dollars so let's say it came to be and for $26.50 I simply rounded up to $30 so I was actually overpaying and I did this with everything, our water bill and trash bill, our electric, our cable, our credit cards...everything. I'm sure it annoyed some of our vendors when they were receiving $4 hour and $5 payments every single week because they had to process an apply to the account sometimes such tedious amounts but before I knew it I had not only gotten us caught up I had us overpaid on almost everything and as a matter of fact I was using coupons and sending every penny that I was saving to our savings account .I also needed to do some finagling with my school funds. What I mean by this my be kind of hard to describe in writing but I was going to college at the time (one of those online universities) and my company had a policy of reimbursing students 100% of their student loans as long at they graded a “C” or above. I had been an “A” student every quarter I was reimbursed the $3,000 for each class that was being charged to a student loan the university had obtained for me. Originally I was taking the reimbursement money and applying it to the student loan (which was 6.5% interest and even though I didn’t have to start paying on the loan until 6 months after I graduated I still paid it)  But now what I started doing was when the money was reimbursed to me to pay for my schooling I was sending the full amount to the credit card people. Since my education reimbursement ended up being in the neighborhood of somewhere like $26,000 these reimbursements not only helped me pay all the debt my husband had accumulated but allowed me to pay ahead. I went back to paying our bills the way I had previously done it when I handled the money, I would pay everything weekly. Our arrears were paid and I not only this we started having money in the bank again. Life was good again...however keep in mind that now I had a school loan somewhere in the area of over $20,000 that would become due after I graduated (Which by the way I earned my degree with honor and Summa Cum Laude). Unfortunately on the down side because of this “finagling” I am still indebted for the school loan to this day and still owe about $12,000 but my credit is (or at least was clear).

 

Long and short of it is I got us out of debt and got us paid ahead and we were very comfortable. We didn't have any balances due to speak of and my credit rating was going way up and things were really looking good. But of course all good things must come to an end. Because our credit was good for some reason my husband started handling the money again. I just don’t know why or how it keeps happening but he starts using that mental abuse game on me whenever I ask about our financial condition or if I should handle the money again, making me the bad guy and “accusing him because I don’t trust him”. But I don’t trust him, not when it comes to money. Even today as I type this I’m waiting to hear from him we are again in financial ruins

 

About 4 years ago. Now with the beautiful credit rating I was hoping to get into the 800’s but was somewhere in the high 700’s when my youngest dog started having health issues. He was only about three years old at that point the the issues were serious enough that he could or rather would die if we let it go untreated so we first started charging our vet bills. Then my husband (in his usual fashion) decided we ended needed to have “Care Credit” which is a correct credit card used for vet services and other medical type issues. (One of those 29% credit cards again). In the end we could have put the dog to sleep for a few hundred dollars or keep him alive (and it ended up costing us about $4,000). We had already put about $1,000 on credit before he got the Care Credit card to we decided that it was worth going into debt to keep our boy alive (and he is still alive and at my feet right now) but of course “SNOWBALL”!!! But I would do it again to keep my dog alive.

 

We decided to get marry as soon as it became legal. Of course there was no way we were going to have a wedding like so many of our friends and family had had, you know $10,000, $15,000, or in the case of his sister $50,000. We did what we could afford and kept things tight but still ended up charging about $4,000 to $5,000 between catering, a DJ, drinks… you get the picture, “A WEDDING!”. Okay so now we are somewhere in the range of about $10,000 in debt (and still paying on the student loan that saved us from the first debacle) but then to add to our debt we decided to go on one of those RSVP cruises (not just one but two over the period of two years) so now add another $8,000 to our debt. Now my husband is handling our money and I’m not blaming him for any of this. These were all mutually decided expenses but I could cry when I think about us being debt clear and where we are now again… but it gets worse.

 

I was coming home from work one night and it was raining. I was driving a car that was about eight years old and had taken us six years to pay off. As I told you before I am the definition of “Murphy’s Law”. I wrecked my car. I ended up slamming into the back of another driver and totaled by car (her car appeared to be okay but later we found out that our insurance company bought her a new car). Unfortunately my husband had removed our full coverage on our car so we did not get anything for it, it was simply totaled. So we ended up taking the only $2,000 we had in the bank and using it on a down payment for a new car. My credit rating had gone down again (and my husband credit is still to this very day ruined and he no longer works as he is on disability so he will never had personal credit again, he needs to rely on my credit and now that we are married if he were to get an additional card without my knowledge (like he did before) I would have no legal grounds (not that I would do anything about it anyway, as I said I certainly wouldn’t put the person I spent the last 35 years with in jail).

 

Okay so now we have all this debt again and a car payment and my husband is paying the bills (YIKES) we are surely headed for a meltdown. I see it and feel it coming. We decided to refinance the car and while we were at it consolidated our credit so we combined all our debt (except the car) into on credit card with a limit of $20,000 so our debt was still manageable however despite my insistence that we either destroy or freeze the now debt free credit cards my husband kept each and every one of them and I know they get used (I have used one or two myself for my tattoos).

 

He tells me we are financially okay but I know deep down inside that he has to be robbing Peter to pay Paul. Believe me he won’t let me see the credit card bills and just keeps on insisting that everything is okay, he keeps reminding me that our lights are on (which is something he has reminded me of several times before our previous financial devastations) and I see credit cards hidden in every nook-and-cranny of this house. Now let me tell you this… I am not blaming him for our debt crisis but when I came home from work (I am the only source of income other than his $12,000 per years SSI that Trump and Ryan are going to take away from us) the other day (depressed as I have been for the last year or two) I mentioned that I have so much to do around the house, paint, we need new carpet, we need to furniture, etc. I told him it was so depressing and I certainly did not feel like painting or fixing up a room when I can only half do it because we don’t have any the money to finish the job he said “Okay, I wasn’t going to tell you this but..” and he pulls out his wallet and out of his wallet he pulls out a credit card for a furniture company (Ashley, I believe) and it’s in my name. Guess what! He has stolen my identity again!! I just shook my head. I was and I am still in shock. I am ready and waiting for the news that we are in such a terrible financial state that we are going to lose everything. Of course I will be to blame for everything when his sister is sitting in my kitchen sipping on a vodka and coke to break the news to me. Let me make it clear right now. That will be the last time I am told that news EVER! Because when that happens I will either walk into the middle of traffic, jump of the Francis Scott Key bridge or simply get in my car and leave.

 

 

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