Divorced? Beware the Identity Thief That Used To Be Your Spouse!

Mention identity theft to someone and their first shuddering thought is of Chinese-Narco-Hackers (™my friend Randy Juip) just waiting to steal their social security numbers and passwords to ruin the person's credit.  Rarely do they think of the person that used to share their bed; their ex-spouse.

A banker friend of mine told me the story of a client of hers.  This client was almost ninety years old and had been battling his ex-wife in court for over two years trying to recover money she had stolen from him.  It came to light when he applied for a loan with my banker friend and when they checked this gentleman's credit report, there was an address on his credit report in a state where he had never lived.  However, his ex-wife lived in that state.  As it turned out, his ex-wife, who had memorized his social security, date of birth, mother's maiden name, etc., had opened several credit accounts in his name without his knowledge after their divorce.  He had no idea, but her actions still managed to prevent him from getting his own loan.  (My understanding is that the gentleman contacted the police about charging her with identity theft, but I do not know how successful those efforts were.)

You can take several steps on your own to minimize the chance that an ex-spouse will steal your identity or ruin your credit.  First, change all of your passwords to something the ex will not easily guess.  You might consider using an app such as OnePassword.  Second, make sure all of your old joint accounts (bank accounts, credit cards, etc.) are closed.  Even if they are paid off, but left open, they are an extremely tempting honey pot for a potential identity thief.  Plus, open accounts even with zero balances can reduce your credit rating.  Finally, consider signing up for some sort of credit/identity theft protection.  Numerous banks and financial institutions offer this service to their customers at little or, perhaps, even no cost.  Even if there is a charge, that expense is minuscule compared to the time you would wind up spending trying to repair your credit history and rating.

For more information, you can also visit our previous writings on this subject at the Alford Law Office or call our office for an appointment.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,