During marriage, your financial identity is often times tied to that of your spouse. During a divorce or separation, it’s important to separate your financial identity from the other person’s as quickly as possible. Identity theft is a difficult thing to deal with and even though you may not think your spouse, or former spouse, would do such a thing, you should take the necessary steps to protect your future credit and financial identity.
Identity theft in a divorce situation is more common when the majority of family credit was obtained in one spouse’s name and the other spouse is now struggling to rent or buy a new home, establish utilities and other credit in their name. Even obtaining new cellular phone service may become an obstacle for the new spouse when there is little or bad credit in their name and the ease of obtaining these new services in the former spouse’s name may be all to easy.
Your spouse has significant access to your personal information such as social security number, credit card numbers and other critical details needed to establish new credit and future misuse. The effects of identity theft on your current and future credit can be devastating and take significant time and effort to correct.
Step One: Freeze Your Credit. If you are concerned about identity theft or someone gaining access to your credit report without your permission, you might consider placing a credit freeze on your report. Also known as a security freeze, this free tool lets you restrict access to your credit report.
A security freeze does not stop you from opening new credit lines, buying a house or applying for a job. However, if you plan on doing any of these, you’ll need to temporarily lift the freeze which you can do for a specific time or for a specific party such as a landlord or potential employer. It’s free to lift the freeze and free to place it again when you are done accessing your credit.
Step Two: Monitor Your Credit. You are allowed to access your free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus each year. If you monitor and check your credit file with a different bureau every four months, you can monitor your credit for free throughout the year. If you want to be more diligent in monitoring your credit, you may want to consider using an identity theft protection company.
Divorce is a stressful and emotional situation where even a normally responsible person might do things they otherwise would not. Taking the necessary precautions in securing your financial identity may significantly save you a great deal of frustration and time in the future.
Always work with a Certified Divorce Lending Professional (CDLP) when going through a divorce and real estate or mortgage financing is present.
This is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. You should contact an attorney or tax professional to obtain legal and tax advice. Interest rates and fees are estimates provided for informational purposes only, and are subject to market changes. This is not a commitment to lend. Rates change daily – call for current quotations.
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