QUESTION: Nancy on Twitter asks if a wife takes out a credit card in the husband’s name without his knowledge, and they get divorced, can he claim identity theft?
ANSWER: Yes. Anytime anyone opens an account in a name other than their name—unless they have a power of attorney—they have stolen an identity. Just because you’re married to someone does not give you the right to sign their name.
I actually knew a guy in the real estate business years ago that was buying and selling a lot of property, and he was doing a lot of deals and he was doing them in his personal name. Occasionally, the title company would require his wife’s signature, and he just signed her name. He ended up going to jail for criminal fraud. He got a felony charge for criminal fraud. He’d call his wife on the phone, and she knew it was going on and he signed it. Then he signed some stuff probably she didn’t know about. There was no power of attorney on any of it, and it all came back and bit him in the butt.
You cannot sign your spouse’s name without a power of attorney. It’s called identity theft. It is criminal fraud. Anytime you lie to get money—that’s one of the basic definitions of fraud.