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Credit counselling in Chicago
Old 12-30-2005, 12:49 PM   #1
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Credit counselling in Chicago

I can't find a thread on this topic on the forum but I need some advice! This is way outside my normal orbit.

Background: When we lived in Chicago, we employed a housekeeper. Not much education, heavy Bulgarian accent and sometimes confused by English. She's honest as the day is long, an incredibly hard worker and the salt of the earth. We always talk on the phone at Christmas time. Just before we left Chicago in 2000, she bought a relatively inexpensive townhouse on the western edge of the city. A year or two afterward, her adult daughter and the daughter's husband arrived from Bulgaria.

The situation: Over the phone on Christmas Day, she was upset. I always ask how things are going and this year, things were not going fine. Her son-in-law is a deadbeat (my words, not hers). He's been using her credit cards, taking money from her bank account, vacuuming her mail to hide what he's doing. I told her that we would help her in any way that we could. (I told her I wasn't going to send money to her home address if the s-i-l would filch that too.) She thanked me but said that her current employers had given her an advance on her pay so she was fine. I told her to call if she needed help.

This morning: She calls us. The problem is rather nastier than described at Christmas. She's got a few hundred dollars in the bank and a $20k credit card bill. I assume she's still got a mortgage to pay but I didn't ask. She doesn't want money. She's clearly embarrassed at even asking for help. She just wants to know what she can do to get herself out of the hole she's in.

Six years on, I know almost no one in Chicago. Those I do know have their answering machines on, probably because they're out of town. Googling for credit counselling services turns up more horror stories about people in trouble getting further ripped off than links to helpful sounding organizations. When I try to call the likeliest candidates, they're (a) on vacation, (b) the 800 number doesn't work from here, (c) the 800 number is now a 900 number, (d) the phone is disconnected. :

Suggestions are solicited.
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago
Old 12-30-2005, 01:00 PM   #2
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago

Sounds like your friend needs a couple of no-neck guys to give the son-in-law a little "counselling".
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago
Old 12-30-2005, 01:31 PM   #3
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago

If someone is stealing her mail, why does she need debt counseling? Report the accounts stolen to the police and have the accounts closed. Of course if she is paying the bills because she is trying to not get the dipshit in trouble, you should just wash your hands of it.
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago
Old 12-30-2005, 01:35 PM   #4
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago

She should phone the police and press charges.
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago
Old 12-30-2005, 01:41 PM   #5
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago

While I appreciate these suggestions - and have made similar ones myself over the phone - she's reluctant to crucify the guy because (a) her daughter will be upset and (b) he's likely to get deported afterward, which would upset her daughter even more.

In any case, those are long run solutions. What can I do to help her now?
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago
Old 12-30-2005, 02:32 PM   #6
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago

nfs, I think first and foremost, she needs to get a PO Box and have all her mail sent there. That way she won't get her mail stolen any more. She should also do further damage control by doing whatever she has to do to restict sonny boy's access to her accounts (close accounts, restrict usage, require an authorization from her, etc.). IOW, she has to stop the damage from getting worse.

Once that is accomplished, I would encourage her to tally up everything she owes and show it to you so that you can help her assess how bad the problem is and whether she can dig out herself. If sh!thead has openend accounts in her name and run them up, she should call it what it is: ID theft. That means it is generally the lender's problem, assuming she can substantiate that she knew nothing about her account. She should also get copies of all three of her credit bureau reports to see if there is anything she doesn't know about.

I would be reluctant to use a credit counseling agency. Enrollment in one of these programs generally trashes your credit and they don't really do anything you can't do for yourself.

Just a thought: any hint that sonny boy has a substance abuse problem? Might explain why he has been stealing from his MIL. Personally, I would be only too happy to hand him over to the cops or, failing that, to some very scary guys my dad could probably dredge up from his fulton fish market days.

Good for you for helping her. I hope that there is something you can do to really help her.
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago
Old 12-30-2005, 03:08 PM   #7
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago

Quote:
Originally Posted by nfs


The situation: Over the phone on Christmas Day, she was upset. I always ask how things are going and this year, things were not going fine. Her son-in-law is a deadbeat (my words, not hers). He's been using her credit cards, taking money from her bank account, vacuuming her mail to hide what he's doing. I told her that we would help her in any way that we could. (I told her I wasn't going to send money to her home address if the s-i-l would filch that too.) She thanked me but said that her current employers had given her an advance on her pay so she was fine. I told her to call if she needed help.

I am worried a bit about this. Are they living with her? He sounds like a bad enough actor that there could be safety issues if she cuts him off. She needs to get him out of the house. Does her daughter even know what is going on?

Stop the bleeding, (Brewer's suggestions are good) be mindful of potential safety issues, and see a lawyer. If she isn't willing to report the ID theft, she might think about talking to a bankruptcy lawyer.

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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago
Old 12-30-2005, 03:10 PM   #8
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Re: Credit counselling in Chicago

Martha just beat me too it...

Once she has done what others have suggested she should sit down with her DAUGHTER and lay out the damage. *She should then tell the daughter that she is concerned for her daughter's future and safety, that she wants to be sure that her daughter distances herself from her husband's activities because once he is shut down from MIL money he will do it to others who will not be forgiving (not that she is).

It is not a question of whether, but when, the SIL will be arrested. *She needs to protect herself and her daughter. *If the daughter will not protect her mother then mom should get a court order of protection and send the both of them packing ASAP.
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