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Compulsive Gambling: What's the Payoff?

  • james hinkle Asks ...
    james hinkle

    My son forged my name as a co-signer on a loan and because of his latest round of gambling, defaulted on the loan. It's now in collection and they are demanding payment. I'm wondering if I should pay or tell the collection agency that it's not my signature.

  • Evan Jarschauer Says ...
    Evan Jarschauer

    This is a powerful question with no easy answer. You are not alone; families all across the country have had to ask me the same question in one form or another countless times. You love your son, and you want him to stop gambling, while at the same time, you resent the behaviors of the compulsive gambler. Although the immediate crisis might be averted by simply paying off the debt, that may only prolong the inevitable emotional and financial carnage to come. Furthermore, if he forged your name one time to secure a loan, how can you be sure he will not try to do the same thing again?

    On the other hand, if you tell the collections agency that your son forged your name on the paperwork for the loan, they will probably encourage you to report the matter to the authorities which could lead to legal problems for your son. Nevertheless, he may actually need to experience the consequences for his actions before he finally agrees to get help.

    By allowing your son to “hit bottom,” you may actually be helping him reach a point in his life where he can gain enough insight through a series of highly negative experiences and consequences, to accept the fact that he has a real problem that requires real treatment. Like I said from the beginning, there is no easy answer to your question; however, you are in a situation where you have to take action one way or another.

    And as you make your decision, keep in mind that compulsive gambling is similar to drug addiction, if the underlying issues contributing to the disorder are not effectively treated, the symptoms can get progressively worse. Although you may be in a financial position to pay off the debt, after you consult with you financial advisor and attorney, you may want to take just a little more time to carefully consider the long term implications of your decision.

    Finally, you may also want to consider planning a professional gambling intervention to explore strategies to thoughtfully, effectively, and strategically capitalize on the situation as it applies to the welfare of your son, the sanctity of your family, as well as your financial reputation.

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