By: Revanche

Cutting off my father: update 3

February 7, 2018

Quick recap: I had to cut off my father. I started the process (1), and immediately ran into resistance and manipulation (2). Yet I still hoped that this would be the last update. Tsk.

After I knew he had the signed title in hand, I emailed instructions on completing the process. I’d done everything needed short of signing his name, including filling out the statement of use, verifying that this was a family transfer and therefore should be free, but of course it still took him five days to bother to confirm receipt and, naturally, offer an excuse not to complete it.

The registration was due in a month, which is no impediment to transferring because you don’t have to pay til the due date, duh, he claimed he wouldn’t be allowed to re-title without paying the registration so I’d have to wait for him to scrape up that money.

That was not true, and I told him so, but we both knew it was a transparent ploy pressure me into paying. After privately fuming at the DMV, because this could have been avoided, I decided to pay the registration to remove that handy excuse. The alternative was to give into his delays until late fees were charged or, worse, come up with another excuse not to complete it which would trigger Plan B (the pain of flying down and repossessing and donating it).

My “oh turns out it was paid last week” email produced a promise to get the transfer done on the next business day. Before I had a chance to let out a premature sigh of relief, friends, what do you think happened next? If you placed a bet on him lying to me, you’d be right!

An email notice from our insurance: a claim had been received on that car. The incident report was dated January 5th. OF COURSE. This was exactly what we were worried about.

I got on the phone with the insurance. The other party reported the incident, their report made it sound like it was his fault, and they waited weeks to report it so both cars were clearly still driveable. The liability portion of our insurance, should he be at fault, will cover losses on their side, but we’d have a $500 deductible if we wanted to use the insurance to cover the repairs on this car.

I confirmed that since only the two of us are policyholders, and he just the named driver, we are the only ones who can decide to exercise the comprehensive/collision coverage. He can’t decide to go for the repairs and stick us with the deductible.

Given that he, again, lied by omission, and has been hiding the incident for weeks, I’m not footing that bill. Maybe someone else more generous than I wouldn’t take it that way but he could and should have told me. Clearly the car is still functional and thankfully no one was hurt.

I have enough of a headache, I’m not going to volunteer to fix this, nor was I even going to mention it to him. My focus stayed on getting the car re-titled.

He was asked to send confirmation of the transfer on Monday. Monday came and went.

Tuesday, he left a chirpy “call back when you have a minute!”. My gut told me to delete the message, it was just another ploy. Instead of calling to ask him if he’d done it as PiC suggested, which would give him an opening for making up excuses and my temper to boil over, I stopped by AAA on Thursday. They confirmed that he still hadn’t completed the transfer. My gut was right. It has been every time.

I stuffed my anger down long enough to email him a reminder to send me the paperwork. Cornered, he let rip a big stinkin’ lie, “he’d been deathly ill the entire week so there was no way he could have taken care of it!” You could hear the fake coughing. It’s like he doesn’t even have a passing acquaintance with the truth.

I wanted to scream at him to stop lying. Instead, I vented a bit, then listened to my gut, honed by years of dealing with my brother, the pathological liar, sharpened by understanding Dad’s psyche which has convinced himself that he only does what’s best for me. Calmly, like the mature adult I play on TV, my reply asked him to send the confirmation by Friday morning at 10 am, take his medicine and feel better.

Spotting an opportunity, he completed it that night and sent it with a new sob story of how he dragged himself out of bed to get this done, right away, because he sensed my dire, urgent need! Two weeks after he should have done it, he’s trying to paint himself a hero.

Right. [many, many eyerolls] He forgets that I still pay the phone bill and can see that he averaged 15 calls a day all week. Definitely the behavior of an invalid.

With the proof of re-titling in hand, representing three weeks of stress, I gave myself a weekend of not thinking about him. A weekend of friends and family time, big deep breaths, just not thinking about what other strategies I have to put in place to remove him from our financial lives and protect my family. The worst part, the part where he could and did hold me hostage, was done and I deserved a little break.

But not too long! The next week, it was back to it because we still had financial liability exposure.

The insurance part was simple, thankfully. We signed the paperwork to release the insurance policy and transfer ownership of the policy to him. I could have cancelled outright and gotten close to $50 refunded but that would have required making contact to explain that he needed to get insurance immediately on his own. Add that $50 convenience fee to the $150 registration paid, and the $80 AAA membership fee, to have someone else be the bearer of that change. I basically paid $50 to avoid a conversation with him. But it’s not a patch on the $2000 a month rent.

The phone is less straightforward. I’ve released ownership of his number and gave him until the end of the month to port it elsewhere. Since it’s been a week without a reply or acknowledgement of that message, it’s safe to assume that we’ll need to be ready to trigger the “if he doesn’t comply” consequence of canceling the number. Crafting that message was taking far too long, until I remembered that whether in English or not in English, a statement of what needs to happen is all that’s needed. No lengthy reasons or explanations are needed.

With that last item in the works, just about everything on the Trello board is checked off except freezing my credit reports.

It costs $10 per agency, and they charge for temporary lifts, so I’m debating whether this is necessary. It’s going to cramp my credit card hacking style if we do. (NOTE: Most importantly, I wanted to be able to refinance the rental easily because I’m still shopping for lenders but I suppose that’ll be worth the charges to temporarily lift the freeze.)

He doesn’t have our current address. Only 1 family member does and she wouldn’t give it up for anything. I routinely scrub my online presence so those data scrapers shouldn’t reveal it, either. (Oh how I despise these data scrapers! There are so many of them and it’s a pain but worth it. I’ll write about that later.)

He shouldn’t have my social security number. Mom memorized them and did all our paperwork, but he never did any so he shouldn’t remember it. We’ve retrieved all old tax documents from my old desk and shredded them, he doesn’t have access to any recent filings to pull it from there.

He probably doesn’t remember my birthday, though other family does, and definitely doesn’t know any of my financial obligations (auto lender, that we have a mortgage and the amount, etc) that might be used to verify identity.

Without those pieces of information, it seems like he shouldn’t get far getting credit in my name.

:: Am I missing anything crucial here to protect my identity? Would you still freeze your credit reports if you were in my shoes?

32 Responses to “Cutting off my father: update 3”

  1. I might still recommend a freeze. If he so frequently lies it’s a hop skip and a jump to social engineering a company. Given your history of intertwined finances it’s probably not outside the realm of possibility he can convince a provider a mistake has been made and the relationship should be resumed.

    • Revanche says:

      I agree that he’d be willing to lie to a company, I’d hoped he didn’t have enough info to social engineer with. Then again, hope does not serve me well in this fight!

  2. I would freeze my credit and keep periodic checks through Credit Karma, etc. I iced my credit reports after the Equifax breach and while it’s kind of pain for churning, it’s not terrible to work around. A lot of your personal identity info seems like stuff he either has or could acquire. For instance, since you recently bought, your address is basically a matter of public record. If he knows the county you’re in, he can request any title docs in your name. My county even has a handy digital interface to request such public documents. Wheee, privacy in the digital era.

    The other thing to be make sure is that all your passwords are not guessable to him (obviously) and that your password reset questions are similarly things that he doesn’t know or couldn’t glean from your social media or family. Across all accounts, financial or otherwise.
    Yet Another PF Blog recently posted…Object Lessons: Backdoor Roth EditionMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I wish I’d had the presence of mind to freeze them after the breach too. And you’re right, if he has any idea how to get into public records, I’d be exposed.

      The good thing is none of my passwords are guessable because they’re utterly random and I don’t have a personal (versus secret PF identity) social media either.

  3. Laura says:

    If freezing your credit will cost you money in the form of missed credit card hacking I’d picture how you’d feel if you credit card hacked $5k and then he ran up $10k in credit card charges under your name.

    *Would you be happy because of the free money and not care about the fraudulent charges bc hey, you don’t owe them?
    *Or would you be so angry you wished you had frozen the credit and the $5k in free money isn’t worth the continuation of the saga?
    *Would you call the police and turn him in?
    *just how angry would you be?

    You can flip it and then picture it the other way. He’s cost you so much money already so if you froze your credit and then you couldn’t credit card hack how would you feel about missing out on the $5k in free money?
    Would him continuing to cost you more money (in the sense you can’t make money cc hacking) make you so angry you don’t care if he takes out credit in your name?

    For me, If I were in your shoes, I don’t think it’s a money issue right now. It’s more of a stress management decision. Your peace of mind is worth something.

    Something to think about is that service you can get for $15 a month or so to clean up after when someone steals your identity. The service will pay for everything. Some services only reimburse you for money you spend but I’m sure there are services out there that will do the work for you (meaning notify entities of the fraud and hassle with clearing your name). So if the latter is $50 a month but you’re making at least twice that travel hacking would it be worth it for peace of mind? Maybe the $15 service would pay for you to hire an attorney to do all the leg work?

    Thanks for keeping us informed. What are your plans for not paying his rent? Are you going to stop cold turkey or gradually shrink the amount each month? You’ve been a great daughter but I’m glad you’re now concentrating on being a great mom. 🙂

    • Basically everything Laura said right here just about sums up what I have to say. And I’m so sorry that this saga just gets dragged on into perpetuity.
      Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early recently posted…Monthly Financial Update: January 2018 My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      You’re very right – I might as well spend the $60 to prevent him from being able to do anything that would cost me time, money, and/or stress.

      I told him in the spring that I couldn’t keep paying his rent after the summer, so I cut back between summer and fall, and cut it of entirely just before winter.

      I’ve spent most of my life trying to be a good daughter, it’s not right that that role should get precedence over my other chosen roles of wife, mother, and PERSON. <3 Thanks for the support and thoughtful suggestions.

  4. Mary says:

    I may be overly rigorous about this sort of thing, but I would freeze it and quit doing the credit card hacks–the peace of mind would be worth the sacrificed hack benefits. My parents had an acrimonious divorce, so a lot of my thinking is influenced by seeing what my mother went through–if you know that the person you’re separating from has a tendency to lie/cheat/do twisty stuff/etc., you can’t leave things up to chance. You can’t leave a hole in your defense. Aside from your current address, you’re relying on two “shouldn’ts” associated with his memory. All it would take is your mother having written down all of the family birthday/SSNs somewhere you don’t know about and those “shouldn’ts” would be out the window.

    (And I use “your mother writing” as an example, because my mother keeps all of her passwords and everything written in a calendar from 1998. We didn’t know she was doing this until we were trying to deal with her financial stuff after she had a major health crisis that affected her brain– she told us to look in that calendar for the things she was no longer remembering. For all you know, your mother may have done something similar. Or there may be some other way for your father to access that you don’t know about that has nothing to do with your mother.)

    I’m really sorry that you’re having to deal with all of this, by the way. The whole situation sucks.

  5. Linda says:

    Inch by inch, step by step, you’re getting there. Hooray!

    Only you know how likely he is to be so devious as to try accessing your credit. Your gut has been excellent so far, and I’d stick with that when making a decision about whether to freeze your accounts.
    Linda recently posted…Money talk: how owning a house can bring in passive incomeMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      It’s a bit agonizing but I keep reminding myself – every little bit of progress is a bit of victory.

      My gut is weirdly silent on this one but in that case, better to be safe than sorry in case it’s only silent because it doesn’t have quite enough to go on.

  6. Good luck! I should have frozen my credit a month ago when it was free from the equifax leak, but I still haven’t gotten around to it. :/
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted…A new lunch plan for DC1My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you! I didn’t even realize that it was free after the breach but I was obviously preoccupied, so now I have to pay. Could be worse.

  7. I think I would freeze. Just in case.

  8. Yea, I think I would agree with the others that you should take precautions just in case. But my main reason for commenting was to say that you are a much stronger and better person than me. I just skimmed through much of the backstory and just found it shocking. Good luck with everything! And if you ever feel any guilt…you shouldn’t because you’ve done much more than any child could be expected. (And this is coming from someone understanding filial piety in Asian culture =)

    • Revanche says:

      Oh gosh, thank you for coming to weigh in and for the good wishes. It’s been a heck of a ride, that’s for sure, but we do the best we can with what we know at the time.

  9. Tina says:

    How do you make sure your current address doesn’t show up online when all property purchases/transfers are part of public records and usually available online (either directly either through different services)?

    • Revanche says:

      I should have clarified that mainly I work on making it not possible to very quickly and easily get my info from Google, vs having to go to public records.

  10. Oh my gosh. I have this politeness compulsion that makes me not want to say what I think of you father. I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this shameful deceit. How pathetic. You’re dealing with it very wisely, and although this cutting off has been tortured and slow, the end is in sight. And when it really has ended, you need to do something really amazing for yourselves to celebrate. Let’s hope Part 4 will be the grand finale.
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…When Young Adult Children Need Help: Rescue or Coach?My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Once upon a time I would have minded a little, feeling that he reflected on me, but I no longer feel that way so you needn’t feel too constrained on my behalf anyway 😉

      I’m now hoping that Update 4 is the final one!

  11. I’m so sorry you’re still having to deal with all this stress. I really don’t have much advice but am sending you virtual hugs.

    I don’t think it’s a bad idea to go ahead with freezing your credit. I think you’d be kicking yourself in anything did happen and the peace of mind is likely worth more than a few credit card rewards. Good luck with everything.

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you, Sarah. I think you’re right. Since my gut is weirdly quiet on this one, I should just take all preventative measures and be glad that nothing can happen.

  12. Sense says:

    Oh, oh, oh, you are in the home stretch to being free!! Thank you for sharing your story.

    It sucks so much to not trust one of your close family members. 🙁 Why does money bring out the absolute worst in people?! My dad’s family is/was exactly like this, and crazy petty. Ginormous fights were started over $20 given to one (adult) child and not one of the other (adult) children. There were a ton of secrets and lies, as well. Like, C’MON. It just taught me what NOT to be like while I was growing up.

    I ended up not freezing my credit back when things were terrible and I was worried my dad would open up a card in my name. I asked another family member about it and they said they thought he wouldn’t dare do it. They turned out to be correct. Pretty sure that if he doesn’t have access to your SS he can’t open up anything, right? For the record, Credit Karma is very user friendly and does a fantastic job of immediately notifying me when something new pops up on my reports. Some intense monitoring might save you the freeze/unfreeze hassle, but I agree with the above posters in that you have to follow your gut about what he is capable of.

    I am so glad you are cleaning your life and psyche of the emotional manipulation and trauma. You are crazy strong and brave.

    p.s. I hate those data scrapers too. Can you please share HOW you scrub the internet of your personal info?!

    • Revanche says:

      I thought the same because I cleared out all the paperwork that I was aware of that had my SSN, but Mary had a great point – I don’t know if Mom wrote it down somewhere else before she died. So I have to be extra careful.

    • Revanche says:

      Oh and yes, I’m putting together a post on the datascrapers thing!

  13. Kris says:

    I am with pretty much everyone commenting on here, you should freeze your credit reports because its worth paying that than anything bad happening.
    The main thing I wanted to say is after reading your series about your father, I think you are making great rational decisions throughout this whole ordeal and you are very strong in detailing with all of this stress.
    Good luck with everything and hopefully the final update will be the next one!!

  14. Anonymess says:

    Congratulations on getting closer to goal, despite the frustrations of pace and the infuriating regularity of your father’s bad behavior.

    I’m struck, reading about your father, by the sheer number of people he’s manipulated into underwriting his irresponsibility, and by his years of overwhelming and unacknowledged reliance on the women in his life — wife, daughter, and sister — despite knowing full well the limits to their physical and financial resources. You deserve so much better.

    For whatever it’s worth, I do agree that you’ve handled it superbly.
    Anonymess recently posted…Where did January go?My Profile

  15. Anonymess says:

    Apologies! I was writing on my phone, with the (ahem) assistance of my cat, and accidentally posted while composing without realizing it. If you can delete it, I’d appreciate it. Sorry to clutter your blog!

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