I met a neighbor and allowed her to use my name various times to borrow money…. The issue is that she has defaulted and made me look bad. Neither she nor her husband nor her daughter will speak to me anymore, and I am left holding the bag with the moneylender. It has turned into a huge scandal. I’m desperate; I don’t know what to do! She won’t come up with anything. She just says she doesn’t have any money to pay. What should I do?

Dear Friend,

Your neighbor is a con woman and you allowed yourself to be conned. She has almost certainly done this to other people, which is why she had no ability to borrow money in her own name. I am sure that she acted like she was your best friend while you were allowing her to use your good name. She tricked you into believing that she was a true friend in need. And from the goodness of your heart, you wanted to help her.

Jesus Himself taught that while the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, the second commandment is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.(1) To love our neighbors means to help them in any way that we can, so you thought that you were doing a good thing. What went wrong?

When you authorized the woman to use your name, you were authorizing dishonesty. She lied, and you let her. You gave her your permission to trick the moneylender.

Now you’re afraid to report her to the police because you know that you acted illegally when you let her use your name. So the police might charge you with a crime at the same time that they would charge her. My advice is that you need to hire an attorney to help you figure out what to do.

Unless the attorney can find a legal way to make the woman pay the debt, I am afraid that you may have to pay it. The attorney can advise you as to whether you should try to make an arrangement with the moneylender.

Unfortunately you have learned the hard way that it is never a good idea to get credit for someone else. Loving your neighbor doesn’t mean borrowing for them, lying for them, or even lending to them if you cannot afford to lose that money.

Many good people think that it is justified to lie or deceive as long as they are doing it for what they have decided is a good reason. They even have special words like “little white lie” for the lies that they think are justified. However, the commandment that God gave Moses does not have an exception clause.(2) Both Jesus and His disciples taught that lying is sin.(3) And now you have a very sad chapter in your life to prove that lying caused you desperation and horrible financial consequences. God will certainly forgive you if you ask Him. Hopefully the moneylender will be just as forgiving.

We wish you well,

1 Mk 12:30-31
2 Ex 20:16; Dt 5:20
3 Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20; Rev 21:8