Do I Have to Pay a Bill if It's Not Mine?

by michael
(mesa arizona united states)

My biological father whom i recently moved to Arizona to get to know has a delinquent bill that he never paid his house was foreclosed on by the bank and he moved as did i. i still live in the same city with the same electric company i have paid all of my bills on time with them .i received a letter stating i owe the amount past due i called them and the said i am responsible to pay because we are family here is the kicker we both have the same name i have a different social obviously a different birth certificate and all necessary information showing my past residence in another state what do i do?

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Sep 03, 2011
Do I Have to Pay a Bill if It's Not Mine?

Unless your name was on your father's utility account as a responsible party, you are not legally required to pay the bill. It does not matter that you are related. It's his bill, not yours.

I assume that when you moved after your biological father lost his home you established new service in your own name and did not transfer your father's service to your new residence. (I am unclear if he moved with you.) I ask because if you did not establish new service and his account was transferred to your new address, that might muddy the water a bit.

Is your biological father in a position to pay the bill? He may be able to set up a payment plan with the utility to pay what he owes over time. If he is not able to take care of the bill or unwilling to do so, I recommend that you write the utility and explain the situation. Be sure to note when you established your own service, including the account # and location of service, and that you did so after the date for the service that the utility is trying to collect on. Also, point out that your name is the same as your biological father's and so that may be the reason why the utility is trying to get you to pay your father's past due bill -- they think you are him. Enclose copies of any documents you may have that help prove your argument that the bill is not yours, but do not share your Social Security number with the utility. Make a copy of your letter and send the original letter certified mail with a return receipt requested.

If your letter does not resolve your problem, I recommend contacting a consumer law attorney in your area for help. You need to resolve this problem so that you do not jeopardize your own utility service, the utility does not turn your father's past due account over to a debt collector and you begin getting calls from the collector, and so your credit rating is not affected by the utility's error.

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