We’ve all heard horror stories of a bitter ex taking out loans or credit cards in their significant other’s name after a breakup or divorce. While this occurrence is highly illegal and constitutes identity fraud in the UK, it does happen. In fact, some of our members have confronted this issue and interestingly enough, it is just about a 50/50 split between male and females affected.
Have you ever wondered what exposure you may be at risk for after going through a breakup? Learn more about our top tips for safeguarding your finances and building credit after a breakup or divorce.
How to Make an Arrangement with your Ex-Partner During a Breakup
It’s true that many breakups are mutual and allow for some form of collaboration. If you find yourself in a position where it is possible to have a conversation with your ex, consider these three tips for softening the potential for damage to your finances.
- Make a Comprehensive List of your Finances
It’s important to conduct an audit of your finances during a breakup while paying special attention to areas where you may be sharing accounts or contracts. Make a detailed list of every item requiring recurring monthly payments from rent or mortgage payments down to the Netflix bill. Making monthly payments on time and in-full is a major factor in calculating your credit score. A few areas to include in your list:
- Shared mobile contracts
- Joint credit cards
- Joint current accounts
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Council taxes
- Gas and electricity bills
- Internet or WiFi bills
- Subscription services (Netflix, gym membership, etc)
- Transportation (car payment)
- Any other areas that carry debt
- Discuss and Make a Plan Moving Forward
While it may not be easy, having a sit down conversation to create a plan about how to divide expenses can help ensure all bills including debt repayments are made on time. This is where your list from step one will come in handy. Pay close attention to the accounts that are registered under your name. Doing this could save you from a world of trouble down the road.
- Make Sure Joint Debts Are Addressed
It’s common for couples who have been together a while to have joint bank loans, overdraft agreements, mortgages or even mobile contracts. If you are unable to separate these joint debts after a break-up, it’s important to take steps to make sure the bills get paid regularly and on-time. Remember, it’s up to you to take care of debts that are registered in your name, even if someone else’s name is on the contract or if you’ve given whatever you took the contract out for away. For example if the mobile contract is under your name, it is advisable for you to be in charge of making monthly payments and gathering reimbursements from your ex until the contract is up. If the bill fails to be paid, it will affect your credit score, even if your ex now has the phone.
Steps to Prevent Your Ex From Taking Out a Loan in Your Name
While this scenario may sound a bit extreme, there are documented instances where previous partners have fraudulently opened accounts in their ex’s name without permission. This constitutes identity theft in the UK and carries harsh penalties. Here are a few tips for safeguarding your credit score and finances if you suspect that things could get out of hand after a breakup.
- Protect Your Personal Information
You should take steps to protect your identity by securing your personal information. While it’s impossible to keep everything a secret, especially in a committed relationship, there are some personal identification items that are appropriate to keep private. The following contains a list of items that may need to be disclosed to lenders to obtain a new loan. Are there any items on this list that can be kept private from everyone, including a partner? If so, it’s worth considering.
Examples of documents used to prove your address for loan applications:
- Driver’s licence
- Benefits entitlement letter
- HMRC Tax Notification
- Local authority tax bill for the current year
- A recent utility bill
- A recent bank, building society or UK credit union statement
- A recent tenancy agreement issued by a solicitor, housing association or local council
Examples of documents used to prove your identity when taking out a loan:
- Driver’s licence
- Blue disabled drivers pass
- UK Armed Forces ID Card
- Biometric Residence Permit
Examples of documents used to prove your income when applying for a loan:
- Pay slips
- Bank statements
- Tax returns from the last two years
- Request Replacement Credit and Debit Cards
It can be a good idea to request replacement cards for your current accounts and credit card accounts after a breakup. The best way to make sure an ex can’t run charges on your accounts is to report the cards as lost or stolen and request a replacement. This approach, however, is likely to cause a temporary inconvenience because you will be unable to access funds until the new cards arrive.
- Change Your Passwords for Online Accounts
Regularly changing passwords for your online accounts is a good idea regardless of if you went through a tough breakup or not. This action becomes even more important when you believe you may be at risk of foul play from a former partner after a breakup. Pay close attention to the passwords concerning your financial wellbeing. A few of these include passwords to:
- Online banking portals
- Credit card portals
- Mobile phone providers
- Auto loan accounts
- Mortgage accounts
- Rent payment accounts
- Utility services
- Credit reference agency accounts
- Monitor your Credit Report
Download the Portify app to track and monitor your TransUnion credit score.
Regularly monitoring your credit report from the three main credit reference agencies can help prevent identity theft in general, whether it’s from an ex or an unknown party. Your credit report should show information about:
- The types of accounts currently opened (ie: credit cards, mortgages, student loans, or vehicle loans)
- The date the accounts were opened
- The credit limit or loan amount approved
- Account balances
- Payment history
Monitoring the above information should provide decent protection against fraud. It’s important to notify the credit reference agency immediately if you notice any errors on your credit report.
- Register with the UK Fraud Prevention Agency: CIFAS
If you believe there is a chance that future fraud may take place, a recommended option would be to contact CIFAS — the UK fraud prevention agency. CIFAS is a nonprofit fraud prevention membership organisation acting as the UK’s leading fraud prevention service. Signing up for protective registration with CIFAS costs £25 for two years but provides a massive reduction in risk for being a victim of fraud. While this may seem like a high upfront cost, it can save you money in the long run if you believe yourself to be at high risk of being targeted. It’s important to note that CIFAS protection doesn’t cover credit or debit card transactions so be sure to check your monthly statements.
Learn how Portify can build your credit score with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion with a simple membership or browse our blog for additional ways to build your credit score in the UK.