{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "My uncle took my 92 year old grandmother with dementia to a department store and had “her” open a credit card in her name. He put about $10,000 of charges on the card and hasn’t made any payments. Now debt collectors are going after her (mail is now being sent to my parents). When the credit card was opened she had no photo identification, if you asked her she wouldn’t have been able to tell you where she lived, wouldn’t have been able to give phone number either. Any thoughts on this?", "post_id": "5fd2df91c7755a002b3bff57", "reply_count": 18, "vote_count": 2, "bowl_id": "5da60c126e5f0d001f32f497", "bowl_name": "Women in Law" }

My uncle took my 92 year old grandmother with dementia to a department store and had “her” open a credit card in her name. He put about $10,000 of charges on the card and hasn’t made any payments. Now debt collectors are going after her (mail is now being sent to my parents). When the credit card was opened she had no photo identification, if you asked her she wouldn’t have been able to tell you where she lived, wouldn’t have been able to give phone number either. Any thoughts on this?

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It’s a crime. Report it to the police.

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Fact specific, but yes, if signed while she ws clear of mind, depending on any language limiting it, it would likely be ok. That's why you should have "the talk" about such things _before_ your parent gets loopy.

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These are the steps: 1. File a police report. 2. Contact credit card customer service and let them know she was a victim. 3. Send a letter to Office of the President at headquarters address for credit card company. Include a copy of the police report. 4. Do not make any payments. If you do, it will be an acknowledgment of the debt. When I practiced, I did consumer protection work so I dealt with this all the time.

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This is elder abuse. I'm sorry your family has to go through this.

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That's despicable and a crime. File a police report. He committed fraud.

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OP, I'm an elder law attorney. I totally agree with reporting this to the police and the card company. Unfortunately different jurisdictions (even within a state) have different levels of focus when it comes to prosecuting financial abuse of incapacitated adults. I'd strongly encourage your family consult with an elder law attorney because there are lots of factors that go into protecting against a recurrence of this.

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File a police report

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Call the debt collectors and the credit card companies, explain what happened, and use the words “elder abuse.” This will (at least it should) trigger an internal investigation and put a hold on the account for the time being.

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Ideally there is an attorney to talk to inside the collection agency. Insist that you talk to them. If you just say “fraud” then they will pause the account temporarily, confirm that she received billing statements for several months, and then tell you that even if it was fraud she no longer has grounds to dispute it since she failed to dispute the charge within thirty days (or 90 days, IDR) of receiving the statement. If you specifically state “elder abuse” and back it up with a police report they may take it more seriously. Again, do this with both the credit card company and the debt collection agency.

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I forgot to mention to put a credit freeze on her credit reports. Not a fraud alert but a credit freeze. This will prevent new accounts from being opened in her name.

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Thank you all so much for your thoughts. I’m so thankful for this community. As a follow-up question - what happens to the debt when she passes away? Will they continue to go after my family? It has been sent to a debt collection company at this point...

OP, having a candid conversation with an elder law attorney who knows estate administration can help with this. Grandma's debt comes out of Grandma's *probate* estate. Your probate estate is only a subset of your assets. Your state probably has perfectly legal nonfraudulent ways to arrange her assets so that her probate estate is minimal to non-existent. (No, I am not recommending that she give away her assets and no, I am not suggesting she do anything that would be considered a voidable voluntary transfer.)

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