Protecting Your Identity After Divorce

15 February 2016

Going through a divorce can be one of the most difficult periods of a person’s life. As if the emotional strain and the burden of sorting through the financial and legal details of the separation aren’t hard enough, ending a marriage can make you 3.5 times more susceptible to identity theft, adding yet another potentially massive burden on an already encumbered mind.

Here are a few ways you can protect your identity before, during and after the divorce so that you can avoid the additional stress of combating credit fraud or ID theft:

Consult a lawyer about your seperation

Seperation can be difficult and dealing with finances during that time harder. Have a conversation with your spouse about how you want to handle seperating the accounts. In some cases, you may want to consider consulting a lawyer to talk about how you might divide finances and better protect your credit and identity.

Keep an eye on your credit report

Long after your marriage has ended, your ex-spouse will likely remember your personal information, such as your Social Insurance Number, date of birth or your account PINs. While a separation agreement can help protect your existing accounts, it can do little to deter your ex-spouse from using this personal data to create new, fraudulent accounts. Regularly checking your credit report or signing up for a credit monitoring service can help you spot certain activity that could indicate fraud, such as new lines of credit in your name or even unusual use of your identifying information online.

Avoid applying for joint credit

When you first get married, it can be tempting to apply for new credit cards or loans jointly as a couple. However, if the marriage ends for whatever reason, those joint accounts could prove to be much more of a threat to your credit than they were ever worth. Creditors do not generally recognize divorce agreements, so even if your separation contract stipulates that your spouse is responsible for paying off a certain account, the creditor may still hold you liable for the debt if your partner defaults. This can affect your credit rating or trigger collection activity, even if your ex-spouse is at fault.

If you have concerns about protecting your identity after a divorce, working with a credit monitoring company can alert you to certain activity that may indicate fraud. This extra set of eyes can afford you peace of mind so you have one less thing to worry about during this onerous time.