Two Ways To Stop An Abuser From Ruining Your Credit

Many times abusers control the cash flow into a home as a means of preventing victims from getting enough funds to leave them. However, even if you can save the money you need to strike out on your own, your soon-to-be ex-spouse can still hinder your efforts by ruining your credit. Here are two things you need to do before or right after filing for divorce to prevent an abusive ex from damaging your credit score and preventing you from moving on with your life.   

Put a Lock on Your Credit Report

According to some statistics, there are 19 victims of identity theft every minute. While data breaches and computer viruses certainly contribute to this problem, many individuals are victimized by people they know, such as friends and family members. Your ex-spouse may try to ruin your credit by fraudulently opening accounts in your name, running up tabs, and failing to pay the amount due.

You can prevent this by freezing your credit at the three reporting agencies either before or immediately after leaving your ex and filing for divorce. A credit freeze—also known as a security freeze—prevents creditors from pulling your credit report while the hold is in place. This makes it harder for your ex to open accounts in your name because most lenders won't issue credit until they can see your report to evaluate your creditworthiness.

The freeze can be lifted at any time, but you must contact all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) separately for it to affect all of your profiles. However, the freeze will typically remain in place until you remove it. 

Remove Your Name From or Close Joint Accounts

The second thing you should do is remove your name from or close joint accounts as soon as possible. A particularly vindictive ex may stop paying on outstanding accounts as a way to ruin your credit, even though his or her credit will be negatively impacted as well. Therefore, it's critical to contact creditors and have them take your name off the accounts you share with your ex.

Be aware, though, this may be easier said than done. You may not have any trouble removing your name from accounts that have been paid in full. However, creditors may be reluctant to take your name off accounts where there is a balance owing. You may need to wait until the divorce is finalized and responsibility for the debts have been assigned by the court. You can then use your divorce decree to compel creditors to release you from debts assigned to your ex. Just don't forget to remove your ex's name from credit accounts you've been ordered to pay.

For more information about preventing an abuser from harming your credit during a divorce or assistance with separating from your spouse, contact a family law attorney (such as one from The Law Office of Israel S Hernandez, PLLC).