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friends debt on credit card in my name.. help!

(60 Posts)
GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 09:47:18

Thank you for taking time to read, feel like im hitting a brick wall and need advice on what to do next..

So, around two years ago, May 2009, a very good friend of mine (who is married with a young child) confided in me that she was in alot of debt (started an affair a few years back and took out a credit card to pay for travel etc). Things were tough and i felt sorry for her. I offered to take out a credit card with zero % interest in which she could transfer her money onto and use the year interest free to pay off as much as she could. Nothing was ever put down in writing, more a verbal agreement. As we were such good friends at the time, l had no reason to belive that things would turn sour!

It was agreed that after the year interest free period was up, she would take out either a loan or credit card in her own name in which to transfer the money back. As i said, nothing was ever put down in writing. She was the one who applied for the credit card over the internet, with all my details etc. Card is fully in my name and was sent to me. Basically for the first few months, she used the card online to buy shopping etc and used the cash she would have used for these things to pay off her existing credit card debt (think it was aprox £1200). I knew this was how she was working it out, but in my opinion it went over the top and soon the card was maxed out to £2,400. I was still being sent the statements at the end of the month (i dont think she realised that).

She did start off with good intentions, a decent amount of money was being paid off to 'my' credit card each month and i was happy with this. However, a year down the line, our friendship suffered a few knock backs and we stopped talking. As the interest free period on the card was now up, i assumed it would be only a matter of time before she switched it into her own name. Another couple of months passed and the payments got less and less (and now had the added interest on it). I spoke with her a few times, over text at first to say about switching. I got a few replies but then she changed her number. We were still at the time friends on facebook so we started exchanging private messages. She said her and husband were in process of looking for new house and were planning to take out extra money on their mortgage to clear off debt (including credit card). I was happy with this, i knew it would take a few more months but it looked like things were going the right way.

However, around christmas 2010, i contacted her again asking what was the lastest. Things seem to have came to a standstill, (debt at around £1300). She said they had found a house, there was just a few issues that they were hoping to have sorted asap. Once this was done, the mortgage would be put in place and the money freed up to clear the debt. As you can imagine, this never happened.

I started to to voice my concerns, sayin that i wasent happy about all this now. It was starting to affect me (I had applied for a home improvement loan to install a new heating system in my home over christmas but was refused due to debt). I said i wanted the money out of my name. Surely if she and husband can be approved for a mortgage, they can take out a loan/credit card in own name?! I initially recieved no reply to my message but then got a really nasty one back sayin that she was no longer accepting any threats from me as to repayments. She had spoken with citizens advice who had told her that as the money is in my name its my problem (which i do accept!). Basically it would be paid back on her terms, not mine. She said she was going through more financial difficulty and so payments would be made, but at the minimum. I was told not to contact her again, she would be back intouch with me when she was a little clearer about things. This was back in Jan 2011.

So as it stands now, the debt is around £1200. She seems to be paying around £40 a month, £25 of that is interest so very little is being paid off the debt each month which is what is annoying me the most! Now i understand that people have financial strains, but i know for a fact she could pay well more than that each month! They havent moved house, still in same place as when all this started. Husband on good job, as is she.

Now i know i should be greatful that the money is being paid, even if it is very little every month. I just cant understand why she cant just transfer the money back into her own name? I would like to think that if the shoe was on the other foot, i would be making it a top priority to clear off any money owed to a friend!

So, basically im left wondering what to do next? Ive sent a few more private mails over face book in last few months but no reply. I sent another last night but she has now deleted or blocked me on fb so i can no longer go down that path. I have no email or phone number. I have one number still on my phone which i think is her home number, but couldnt be sure. I may also have her husbands number, but again as it was from years ago, i dont know if it is still his.

Right now, id be willing to take all this to a small claims court. Im not asking for compensation, i just want the debt out of my name. But obviously, im worried that i could get into major trouble because of the fact that i 'alllowed' someone else to take out a credit card in my name and then use it. I spoke with citizens advice aswell a few months back, but she was a little unsure if going ahead would be the right thing cos of the fact that i didnt just hand her over the money, but it was done through a credit card. She wanted to speak with a lawyer but never did get back to me.

So has anyone got any advice/recomendations/help! for me?! I have learned a very tough lesson from all of this and i have been very silly, i was only trying to help a good friend out. Never once did i expect it to all turn out this way!

TeamLemon Wed 22-Jun-11 10:00:54

I'm not in any form of legal profession, but...

I think you have done a very stupid kind thing for your friend and then she has screwed you over.
You'll probably have no right to take this to court because you entered into the agreement willing. I think you'll probably just have to chalk it up to experience and wait for her to pay off the debt.

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:03:47

i know, my act of kindness has came back to bite me on the bum!! thanks for your comment though smile

suzikettles Wed 22-Jun-11 10:05:20

also no legal background, but I don't think you have a cat's chance in hell of tying this to her via small claims or otherwise unfortunately.

For your own peace of mind you probably need to write this off, pay off the card as soon as you can and chalk it up to experience.

This woman is a bad, bad person.

suzikettles Wed 22-Jun-11 10:07:56

It'll take well over 2 years for her to pay back the debt at £40 a time, and of course she could default at any time which would further affect your credit rating.

I'd really not want to risk having this hanging over me for that length of time. At the very least set up a direct debit yourself to pay the minimum so that if she misses a payment your credit isn't affected.

MissingMySleep Wed 22-Jun-11 10:09:27

If the statements are coming to you, does she get to see the amounts of interest building up?

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:12:57

I have thought about paying off the money myself.. I could transfer it onto my own credit card that only has around £150 on it at the moment. She wouldnt know that the money had been cleared and would still make payments to it though... Could i then claim that back do you think? The card would just go into credit if im right in thinking?

PrettyCandles Wed 22-Jun-11 10:14:42

Can you freeze the card in any way, so that she cannot spend on it? Because the way things have gone, and the way she has been backsliding on your agreement...

I wouldn't go to court on this without proper advice from a solicitor, because the way you took the card out might be considered fraud. And anyway you are probably responsible for any debts incurred in your name.

GroovyRach: NiceButNaive smile

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:14:55

MissingMySleep - no, she thought as she had done it all online, there would be no paper statements, however i have been sent them monthly since it all started so have been able to keep an eye on it all. i told her when the interest rate kicked in and aprox how much it was every month. i told her when i last contacted her properly at start of year what the balance was

suzikettles Wed 22-Jun-11 10:16:04

I suppose (although it gets complicated) you could apply for a second card for that account, move the balance to your own card and then spend the credit that builds up on her card on shopping or whatever every few months.

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:17:49

I guess i could freeze the card, but she hasent spent on it in over a year now. it was just the initial few months that she went spend happy! i think she cut up the card anyway after she first got it and just done it all online.

i wouldnt go anywhere near a court if it ment i could get into serious trouble. i know i should just be happy that a payment is being made every month (even if it is just the minimum!). just makes me so angry!

MissingMySleep Wed 22-Jun-11 10:19:32

freezing the card is a really really really good idea.

If you pay off the card you must make sure you keep really good records of what money she still owes, what she has paid back and so on.

If you transfer it to your other card, is there a benefit? Would you still pay interest on that? It might make it harder to demonstrate what interest is due on her debt and what interest is due on your debts, if that makes sense.

ZacharyQuack Wed 22-Jun-11 10:20:57

Have you got anything in writing from her that acknowledges that the debt is hers? Copies of emails?

Yes, if she's not getting copies of the statement I think you should try to pay off the debt as much as you can. It is just costing more and more in interest and it's very likely that she will stop making any repayments at all. You need to keep a copy of what she owes, the additional interest charges and what she has repaid.

Do you think her husband knows about this? Could this be why she's being cagey?

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:21:10

suzikettles - this did come into my mind.. i guess i could phone up and say i have lost the card, can they send me a replacement? then if i switch even £1000 over to mine, i can let the credit acquire on the original account then some how either ask to claim it back or as you say, spend on it.

it does get so complicated confused

Iloveredvelvetcake Wed 22-Jun-11 10:22:24

Oh dear OP, it's a harsh lesson learnt but you need to take control of this asap for the sake of your credit history, in case she stops making payments.

Transfer it to a low interest or zero interest card and pay it off, if statements are coming to you, then she won't know that the amount has been paid off, so might well continue to make payments. (don't hold your breath!)

Keep an eye on the account and if any payment builds up, you can transfer it to your current account. I have had a credit balance on my Santander credit card for months and just about to get round to transferring it, should be no problem at all. It's your money.

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:26:13

missingmysleep - my moving it to mine, i have a much better interest rate, i could prob even getting an zero blance transfer rate which would obv be good. i would need a friend who is good with number etc to work out how much would still be owed from her side etc

zach - yes i still have copies of all the messages sent over facebook (this is where most of the communicating went on) but now as she has deleted or blocked me, if doesnt show up her name, but she has signed of at end of each message with her name, if that makes sense?

i honeslty dont know if her husband know about all of this. as the debt was built up orginally from an affair, i would be very surprised if he did know. from what i understand from when we were friends, he took nothing really to do with the money matters, so it was easy enough for her to hide the debt she had and just tranfer over money each month to pay it off.

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:29:41

ilovered - yes this is what i thought, if i let the money build up, i can transfer it to my bank somehow. i dont belive the credit card company can keep what is 'my' money anyway if there has been an overpayment that has taken the account into credit anyway.

electra Wed 22-Jun-11 10:29:54

She's a total cow bag and she's treated you really badly but what on earth made you think it was a good idea to take out a credit card for someone who clearly showed she couldn't handle her finances in the first place? You must be a very kind person indeed but lending money to anyone is always extremely dodgy.

If I were you I would get professional advice asap. If you can prove that she has used a card that is in your name then you could technically say she has committed fraud but I'm no expert.

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:32:13

thanks ladies for your help. have to rush off to get ready for work. will check back again later today so if anyone has any other advice/help or knows a big buff/scary looking guy who could go round and stand over her till she pays up, let me know grin (obv i dont really mean that!)

smile x

PrettyCandles Wed 22-Jun-11 10:33:59

"I guess i could freeze the card, but she hasent spent on it in over a year now. it was just the initial few months that she went spend happy! i think she cut up the card anyway after she first got it and just done it all online. "

And you trust her?

hmm

TheRhubarb Wed 22-Jun-11 10:34:20

Good advice so far.
I too would cancel the card and get the debt transferred. I would then go straight to her dh and confess what you have done. He may agree to talk to his wife and agree monthly installments to help you pay off the debt, or he may not, but in any case as you have been fully screwed over I think it's only right that you tell him what has been going on as I assume you are now going to have to bail your friend out to the tune of thousands of pounds. At the very least him knowing might stop her from getting into more debt which could ultimately cost him and their children too.

Pagwatch Wed 22-Jun-11 10:34:32

I agree with Electra except on the fraud thing. Op was complicit so any fraud was equally her doing.

I get that on a personal level this was done with kind intent. But it is fraud.

I would contact the credit card company and say card has gone missing. Get a new card with new details etc so she can't possibly use it ever again. Then I would set up repayments. If she continues to make payments then it will mitigate the losses.

But giving someone a card in your name is illegal and barking - however well intentioned.
I am astonished tbh.

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:35:35

electra - i know i was in the wrong to do it in the first place, i accpet that! i was honestly just helping out a friend. as i said it was only ment for a year then had full expectations that it would be transfered back into her name. it was a short term thing, but our friendship hit the rocks just as that year came to an end. it wasent something i could have seen coming. i tried to remain as friendly as i could with her till i knew it was switched, but all the humming and hawing back and forward got me angry and i just had to let this be known!

electra Wed 22-Jun-11 10:37:26

As I say I'm certainly no expert - I am sure Pagwatch is correct. OP, please don't be taken for a mug again. There is a line between acts of kindness and allowing people to use you as a doormat.

GroovyRach Wed 22-Jun-11 10:41:09

ok, thanks for all the helpful advice i have been given. as i already said, i know i was in the wrong, i fully accept that, so please no more bashing at me!

i will look into phoning the company, sayin the card has gone missing, can i have a new one please. i'll change all security details etc.

i know this may be hard for you all to belive, but i am not naive in all of this. i honestly dont believe she would run up more debt on it. i think its just selfishness and out of spite that she is just payin the minimum every month.

i may try to contact her husband. i think if he doesnt know about all of this he would be very shocked. this man is very straight laced, good job, proud of his family and hard working. to think that his wife has acted like this would leave him utterly speachless!

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