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Alderman: Divorcing? Protect your finances, personal data

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No doubt you’ve seen many warnings against sharing personal or financial information with strangers, but what about your spouse – or ex-spouse?

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To protect your credit status, close joint bank and credit card accounts and open new ones in your own name; otherwise, an economically struggling or vindictive ex-spouse could amass debt in your name and ruin your credit. If your ex retains the house or car, make sure your name is taken off the loan so you’re not responsible if they flake on payments.

Be sure all closed accounts are paid off, even if you must transfer balances to your new account and pay them off yourself. That’s because late or unmade payments by either party on a joint account – open or closed – will damage both of your credit scores.

Check your credit reports before, during and after the divorce to make sure you’re aware of all outstanding debts and to ensure that all joint accounts were properly closed. The three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, don’t always list the same accounts, so to be safe, order credit reports from each.

Change all passwords, PINs and other information your ex could use to access your electronic devices and financial, email and social media accounts. Also, don’t email or post malicious or revealing information that could be damaging if presented in court.

Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs.

To follow Jason Alderman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PracticalMoney.

Bottom line: Divorce can be a painful experience to live through. Don’t make it worse by not protecting your own financial interests.

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