Keep Your Ex From Ruining Your Credit
Breakups are difficult. Worse when your ex wants to get revenge by running up big credit card balances in your name. Lovers scorned are a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully, your credit won’t be in the path of destruction. Here are a few ways to keep your ex from ruining your credit score.
Remove your ex’s authorized user status. If you had your ex listed as an authorized user on your credit card, call the card issuer to remove them, before you break up or as soon as you learn about the break-up. That way, your ex won’t be able to use the card to run up big balances.
On the flip side, you don’t want to remain the authorized user since your ex could start misusing the credit card. While authorized users aren’t liable for charges made on the credit card, the account history still shows up on both of your credit reports. Have yourself removed from the account to prevent damage to your credit.
Dissolve joint accounts. Joint accounts are harder to deal since you signed up for the account together. One person can’t simply kick the other off the credit card. And, if both of you used the card, you might have a hard time figuring out who’s responsible for what.
In a divorce, the attorneys and the judge would mediate the process if you can’t reach an agreement. However, if you were never married to your ex, the two of you have to work out a deal with each other. Worst-case scenario, you’ll have to make timely monthly payments to protect your credit. If you have records of the charges your ex- made, you may be able to sue them in small claims court.
Close the account while you work out the details so no more charges are made on the account. Continue to make sure that at least the minimum payment is made on time each month.
Follow up on all accounts. If you’ve co-signed a loan and agreed that your ex will take over the payments, your ex should have your name removed from the loan. Removing your name from a co-signed loan is difficult, especially if the other borrower isn’t cooperative. Your credit will be impacted by accounts that still list your name. If your ex isn’t keeping up with the payments, then you’ll have to pay if you want to protect your credit.
The situation gets more complicated with a mortgage or car loan. You have to decide who’s going to live in the house or drive the car. And whether you have any legal recourse depends on whether your name is on the loan. For these legally complex situations, consulting an attorney is often the best option.
Change your address. If you’re moving, make sure all your creditors and other businesses have your new address. That way, all your mail reaches you, especially new checks, bank statements, and credit or debit cards. You can even have your mail forwarded from your old address to the new one.
Request new accounts numbers. Your ex may have mail or other documents with your account numbers on them. If you think there’s a chance they could use that information to rack up charges in your name, ask your creditors to issue new account numbers for you.
Put a fraud alert on your credit report. Vindictive exes may try to open new accounts in your name, especially if they’ve memorized your social security number. A fraud alert would let businesses know that they should take extra steps to confirm your identity before issuing new credit. Keep in mind the basic fraud alert expires after 90 days.
Freeze your credit report. A security freeze goes a step beyond a fraud alert. Once your credit report is frozen, businesses can’t access your report to approve any credit-based application. This would eliminate many fraudulent accounts from being opened in your name. However, certain transactions, like payday loans, for example, don’t require a credit check. Neither a fraud alert or security freeze would help in these situations.
If you later discover that your ex opened an account in your name, find the contact information for the creditor and report the account as fraudulent. You may have to submit an ID theft report or a signed, notarized affidavit stating you didn’t open the account.