Elkridge, MD asked in Identity Theft for Maryland

Q: My brother is in prison. His girlfriend has POA. She wants to open credit cards in his name. Is that legal?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: There are three parts to this answer: (1) whether the POA itself states the agent has the power to do so, and many general powers of attorney do grant the power to borrow money or apply for credit--but you have to be sure; (2) whether doing so is strictly for the benefit of and in the interest of your brother. A person exercising a POA has a fiduciary duty to the maker of the POA, and may only act in the interest of the maker; self-dealing is not allowed. However, if your brother has explicitly approved of her actions, then she may do so. And (3) whether the credit card companies allow it. She cannot simply sign his name to an application for credit without also disclosing that she is acting as his POA and reveal her agency. I imagine in this scenario, most credit card issuers would not issue credit under these circumstances. If she applies for credit in his name without disclosing her identity and agency under the POA, then she may be committing fraud on the credit card companies.

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