College students are bombarded with credit card applications on a regular basis. As they walk to class they are showered with offers of free T-shirts, liters of soda, or pizza if they fill out a credit card application. Most students do not realize that simply applying for the credit card, without ever using it, can impact their credit score. Others living on limited incomes may come to depend on their credit cards to fill the gap between their student loan disbursements. The plummet into credit card debt can happen very quickly, but have a lasting impact on a student’s life and future plans. One negative impact of credit card debt may be a low credit score.
Credit reports and credit scores are more important than many people realize. A student’s credit report can impact their ability to obtain a car or mortgage loan, insurance coverage and even employment. Individuals living with credit card debt are often embarrassed that they allowed themselves to sink so far into debt and often simply ignore it. Unfortunately, if a debt is ignored for too long, it can lead to other problems. The debt may be sold to a debt collection agency and if ignored for even longer, the creditor may file a lawsuit against the student, which can lead to a judgment and possible wage garnishment.
The Center for Student Legal Services encourages any student dealing with issues related to credit card debt to schedule an appointment and discuss their problem with an attorney as soon as possible. Furthermore, the Center for Student Legal Services encourages all students to obtain their credit report annually to ensure that the reporting is accurate. For more information on obtaining your free credit report, check out: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp. If your student disagrees with the information in their credit report, have them contact the Center for Student Legal Services for more information about disputing inaccurate credit reports.
The attorneys at the Center for Student Legal Services can provide students with advice regarding a variety of consumer protection issues, including but not limited to the following:
- Unfair debt collection
- Inaccurate credit reporting
- Wrongful insurance denial
- Identity theft
- Used vehicle fraud
- Predatory lending
Melissa Greenlee, Staff Attorney
It is an undeniable fact that many college students either use or possess a fake ID while they are under the age of 21. It is also a tradition for real driver’s licenses to be “passed on” to underage siblings or friends with the admonition “don’t get caught.” Unfortunately, the consequences can be severe when one’s luck runs out.
The charge of possession or manufacture of a fake ID or the alteration of or use of someone else’s real ID is a first degree misdemeanor in violation of O.R.C. 4510.33, which can carry a fine of up to $1,000 or 12 months in jail. In addition, a license suspension of up to one year can be imposed by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles on a violator or the owner of the real driver’s license who provided it to the underage student.
The usual sentence in Athens, Ohio for a student who is not able to participate in the Municipal Court’s diversion program is a fine between $150 and $250, with court costs of $104 and up to 90 days jail time, suspended on the condition that the student remains law abiding for two years and possibly completes a number of hours of community service. If the student has already completed a diversion program or has any jail time already suspended over his/her head for a prior violation of law, the court is quite likely to impose between two and five days of actual jail time on the offender. While a fake ID charge is normally able to be sealed or expunged in a year, if the offender has a prior conviction other than a minor misdemeanor, clearing one’s record may be impossible.
Fortunately, for those students who have successfully completed the Court’s Diversion Program, the earlier charges will have resulted in a dismissal, which does not impact the effort to seal a subsequent conviction. Unfortunately, the court may treat a sole charge of “possession of false identification” as not eligible for the diversion program, thereby resulting in a conviction. In addition to the court consequences, a student possessing or using a fake ID would most likely be charged with a violation of the Ohio University Code of Student Conduct, resulting in sanctions such as probation, fines, and possibly suspension if it is in violation of an existing probation sentence.
Should you have the unfortunate experience of having a legal issue, The Center for Student Legal Services, which is a resource available to OU students who have not waived the quarterly fee on their tuition bill, provides legal representation in Athens Municipal Court matters. It is highly recommended that you not carry or use a fake ID. Be aware of the above consequences.
Patrick McGee, Managing Attorney