5 Tips to Protect Your Credit During Divorce
Going through divorce is stressful enough without having to worry about your credit. If you have concerns about your credit, you may want to consider a few tips:
- Check your credit. You are entitled to one free credit report per year per the credit bureau. Knowing your credit score and what it says on your credit report is always a good idea. It is also helpful when completing your required disclosure documents for the divorce court, as the report contains information about your credit history, both open and closed accounts. If you are not the family “accountant” this will assist you in completing the disclosure documents with your attorney and in assessing the other side’s for accuracy.
- Make note of problems. If there are accounts you do not recognize, tell your attorney right away. It is not unheard of for one spouse to open an account using another spouse’s identity information. If there are late payments on accounts or too much open credit with balances, this can negatively impact your credit score.
- Sign up for a free credit monitoring service. There are several repeatable services that monitor your credit for free. For example, Mint is an online service which allows you to connect all of your financial accounts on one dashboard so that you have an overview of your personal finances. They also provide a free credit monitor. Unfortunately, if there is a change, this may mean that something negative has already happened. Thus, this is not a means of prevention, rather it is a way to stay knowledgeable, allowing you to take swift action if a problem has occurred.
- Fraud alerts. Be cautious with these, as there are many scams which take the form of “fraud alerts.” It is good to sign up for notifications, but make sure that you call the financial institution from a number that you know is theirs. If you get a call from them, ask to call them back. Don’t call on a number they give you. Call from a number on your statement or the back of your card. Do not give anyone password information. You can also place a fraud alert on your credit through the credit bureaus. This, generally, will cause venders to contact you first (though it is not a foolproof system because you must rely on third parties to follow through).
- Freeze your credit. If you are concerned that your spouse may be using your credit, or you are concerned about protecting against credit being taken out in your name, you can opt to have your credit frozen. You can do this online with each credit reporting agency. There is a small fee associated with doing so. It will also prevent you from taking out credit unless you lift the freeze. Thus, only use this option if you have already opened all the credit accounts you want. If you believe you may want to take a loan or apply for credit in the near future, this may not be the best option for you.
At Law & Mediation Firm of Klueck & Hoppes, we are here to guide and assist you with any divorce or family law matter. Learn more tips and gain valuable advice tailored to your specific by calling 619-448-6500 to schedule a one-hour consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.