When you’re approaching a divorce, there are a ton of different issues that have to be addressed, so it’s easy to lose track of a few – including the need to protect your credit.
Preserving your access to credit when you need it is a critical part of the logistics of any divorce. You don’t want a poor credit score to hold you back when you are trying to find housing, refinancing your vehicle or taking other steps to move on with your life. So, what can you do to make sure that your divorce has as minimal of an impact as possible on your credit?
Know where your credit stands today
You can’t preserve your credit if you don’t even know your current status. Get copies of your credit reports from all three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) so you can identify any joint accounts and outstanding debts that may be an issue in your divorce. This is also a good way to uncover any “hidden” credit card accounts that your spouse may have in both your names.
Monitor all joint accounts until they are closed
You can immediately remove your spouse as an “authorized user” on any credit cards solely in your name, and you should begin working with your spouse to close all the joint accounts and move all the balances to individual cards or paying off the debts, instead. Since dividing the shared debts may take some negotiation, consider putting a “freeze” on those cards until the issue is settled. Check regularly to make sure that they aren’t being covertly used by your spouse.
Heighten your fraud protection
Even if you don’t think your spouse would use your credit behind your back, you should consider increasing your fraud protections. Add two-factor identification to all your online accounts so that nobody but you can access them, and enable any fraud protection services that your credit cards and bank may have so that you can be alerted to suspicious expenditures.
Roughly 38% of people who have gone through divorce report that their credit scores dropped by 50 points or more as a result – but you can keep from being among them with careful planning and by seeking experienced legal guidance.