Can someone be held responsible for debts thattheir father ran up in their name by using their SSN?

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Can someone be held responsible for debts thattheir father ran up in their name by using their SSN?

A father committed identity theft to a son while he was a minor and now the son is being charged saying his SSN was used so he has to pay. They have already started taking out of income tax and now the marshals showed up to his house and they are threatening to arrest him and seize property. Is there anything he can do because he was a minor and it wasn’t his fault? Can identity theft by parent be charged to the son?

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A person is not responsible for charges run up illegally by another person in his/her name, without permission or approval. The son should retain an attorney immediately; the lawyer can bring a legal action seeking an injunction (court order) restraining or staying any collections efforts pending determination of who was actually responsible for the charges. The lawyer would also in parallel seek a court determination that the father was responsible, not the son; may seek compensation from the father; and will possibly advise  the son to seek to press charges against the father.

Also, if the son was a minor at the time, it may be impossible to hold him to charges run up in his name, or service agreements/contracts he allegedly signed, since a minor may not contract as a general matter.

Therefore, there is likely recourse for the son. He should, again, speak with an attorney immediately; there are actions which can be taken to try to put collections on hold while sorting this matter out.


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