A reader is thousands in debt — and is still living with the mother who put him there.

Question: I have debt from Wells Fargo that was $125 — but in 2014 turned into $300. Now I have no idea where it is. I also owe Verizon $1,300 and Comcast $1,500, because my mother used my name and Social Security number to order these services for herself — knowing she wouldn’t pay.

I’ve never really been taught to be responsible with cash, which is kinda why when I got a lump sum of $30,000 dollars from an accident I had as a child my family guilt-tripped me into taking, stole from me, and copied down my credit card numbers to the point I’m now broke. I live with the same mother who stole from me and threatens to make me homeless if I bring it up. I just wanna know how I can clear my debts and become responsible with my money.

— Patrick in Pennsylvania

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

I’m so sorry to hear about this, Patrick. Your family has wronged you twice: not teaching you the basic life skill of money management, and stealing whatever money you’ve managed to acquire.

Parents need to have “the talk” with their children — not just about sex but about money. You didn’t get that, but it’s not too late to learn.

First, let’s fix the problem you have right now…

Get your credit reports

Go to AnnualCreditReport.com — and only there. As I’ve detailed before, other websites offer you “free” credit reports, but then slyly try to tack on other services.

 But ACR is government-approved and completely free. You can order one credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year at no cost. Usually, experts advise you to order one every four months, but you need all three right away.

Once you order these reports, you’ll see what debts are outstanding and what company is holding those debts. That will answer your Wells Fargo question.

Then you need to call those companies. You may be able to negotiate with them. Of course, that raises an obvious question: Why would they be willing to negotiate with you? I explained that to another Debt.com reader back in January, so check the tactics for making those calls.

You should also check those credit reports to see if there are other credit-card accounts opened in your name by other people. Here’s what to look for. If you didn’t sign up yourself, tell those card issuers it was done so fraudulently. They’ll close them, and they’ll investigate.

Given your family history, you may want to consider credit monitoring. Given your debts, you should explore professional solutions. Debt.com has a section called Debt Relief Programs for Every Type of Debt.

After you do a little reading and digging, Patrick, you can call one of our certified counselors at 1-800-810-0989 for a free debt analysis. They may be able to get you back on track.

Have a debt question? Can’t find what you need to know? We can! Submit any debt or finance question you have, and we’ll tap a pro who will respond as quickly as possible.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC