I am going through a divorce and I am afraid my ex may have taken out credit cards in my name. What can I do?
I generally tell divorce clients to obtain two credit reports, both of which can be legally obtained: One, the client’s personal credit report and, two, the client’s joint credit report with the ex-spouse. Factually, you should be able to determine from the credit reports whether there are credit cards in your name that you do not know about.
There are generally three credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Transamerica. Once a year, each of these companies will give you a free credit report, and quite frankly, you should check every year for the rest of your life. An alternative would be to subscribe to a service that provides credit monitoring.
If you are the parent of a minor child, with a name close to that of your ex, you might also check your child’s credit report if you are the parent with legal custody or joint legal custody. I have seen many situations where a parent has obtained credit by stealing the identity of a child with a very similar name, such as Fred and Fred Jr.
If you find problems with the credit reports when you receive them, please take immediate action. Go over the reports with your divorce attorney. Write any letters for your credit file with the credit bureaus that are needed, and cancel cards that you did not apply for with an explanation. If there are balances on the cards in your name and you did not incur the balances, discuss with your attorney how to get the culprit who stole your credit.
Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at email@example.com, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”. “Ask Carolyn…” will be a regular column, but not necessarily weekly.