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Forgery of Your Name by Another

What happens when another person forges your name? Are you legally bound by the terms of the document on which your forged name appears? What recourse do you have?

My husband and I have been separated for one year, but he recently obtained a credit card in my name. Is this legal?

No. Your husband can be held liable under civil and criminal law if you decide to pursue legal action for the unauthorized credit card in your name. To avoid liability, you must notify the bank that issued the credit card, and request that the account be cancelled. Note that if you reside in a community property state (Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), you may be liable for the debt.

Someone forged my name on a check. Do I have to pay it?

No. You will be liable only for checks that are signed by you. Since you did not sign the check, liability rests with the person who forged your name. In the event that collection from the forger is unlikely (and it probably will be), your bank is liable to you for the amount of the forged check.

TIP: If you suspect that your name was forged, you must notify the bank promptly or you may have trouble avoiding liability for the amount of the check. The Uniform Commercial Code allows forgeries to be reported for up to 1 year, but it is best to not wait that long.