According to Webster’s Dictionary the word Divorce means: ‘to make or keep separate’. What it doesn’t mention is a simple resolution that marriage could turn into a nightmare with your identity being put at risk.
“If it’s going to happen, be prepared to protect your identity” says Mark Fullbright, ICFE CITRMS® Certified Identity Theft Advocate.
Identity Theft can happen before, during, or after your divorce. “I’ve seen it happen from family members, family friends, and scammers alike. Opportunists are waiting for the chance to steal your Identity and count on catching you off guard.”
Be prepared to flag your own credit files with fraud alerts or security freezes to reduce the exposure of Identity Theft. Because your credit information may be known, use an alternate contact phone number and request a password be added to your files.
Sorting through Financial Accounts can quickly become complex and a daunting task. Contacting current creditors to inform them of a pending divorce, could concern them enough to block Joint Accounts to prevent additional debt from being added. This is common and should be expected.
“One of the most important pieces of advice I can give is to change the card numbers of Credit, Debit or Checking accounts in your own name (not joint account). Remove authorized users that should no longer have access to your own personal account,” says Mark. This is because financial Institutions may hold you responsible under the “Implied Consent Rule”, meaning if you let that person use your accounts previously you may be held responsible for charges made up to the time the creditor is notified.
It is also a highly recommended to change your phone number and your address. To set up a different number while still retaining your current one is to use Google Voice and forward calls to your current number. Also USPS.com offers online PO Box service.
Any accounts opened without your consent are considered fraudulent and using your PII makes it Identity Theft. Protecting your identity through a divorce may require an Identity Theft Report be filed on any accounts opened without your consent.
Personal records like birth certificates, passports, and flash cards/thumb drives (storage devices) of important data from your computer are easy targets and can be sold and/or used to commit Identity Theft. Keep these in a safe and secure location.
Lastly, it is highly recommended you retain legal advice and follow the laws in your state pertaining to divorce.