Going through a breakup can be challenging enough.
But when money is involved, it can get even messier.
If you were in a long-term relationship with a partner it’s likely you may be ‘financial associates’ – particularly if you made any joint agreements, such as taking out a loan or a mortgage.
‘These financial commitments will show up on both you and your partner’s credit reports, which will be looked at when making new applications for credit,’ says Paul Stringer, director of the Norton Finance Group.
He adds: ‘You can also be financially linked even if you are not making applications for joint credit.
‘While breaking up with a partner will not directly affect your credit score, any joint financial obligations can cause problems.’
This is why it’s a good idea to get your accounts in order, following a breakup – so there are no surprises down the line.
Experts have shared some ways you can ensure your credit score is protected post-breakup.
Check your credit report straight away
A good place to start is with your credit report itself.
Check it over to make sure that your ex partner has not put you on their credit accounts without your knowledge.
Paul Stringer adds: ‘Additionally, this will give you a good indication of which accounts you will need to close or amend to remove any financial association.
‘You can also set up fraud alerts on your accounts so you will be notified should there be any activity that would suggest identity theft.’
Pay off any joint debt ASAP
It’s likely you’ll have been putting it off, but it’s essential to get any joint payments or debts sorted as soon as possible – no matter how big or small.
Sarah Holt, head of partnerships at Monese, says: ‘Whether this is a gas bill, the remainder of the rent agreed on your accommodation, a loan for bigger household purchases such as a fridge-freezer, or simply the overdraft on your joint bank account, getting these not-so-fun payments done and dusted is the first key step to separating yourself from any nasty future financial surprises.’
Close any joint accounts
Once all payments are settled, then you can go about closing any joint accounts.
Sarah adds: ‘This can either be done by removing one name (if one party wishes) to be the sole owner of account going forward, or by applying to close the account completely.
‘It should be fairly simple to do and can usually be instigated by simply filling in the relevant online form.’
Contact credit reference agencies
After these shared accounts are closed, make sure you request the financial link is removed from your credit report.
James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, says: ‘This will ensure your credit reports are completely separated.
‘You can do this by contacting a credit reference agency such as Experian, Equifax or TransUnion.’
This is a crucial step.
Paul adds: ‘Until this happens, any transactions from your ex partner could potentially impact your own credit report.’
But there’s another issue to be aware of if you’re going through a divorce.
Paul says: ‘Note that changing your name after a divorce will not impact your credit score and you will remain financially linked to your ex until the link is removed.’
So you’ll still need to carry out all these different steps to get your solo credit file back.
Inform landlords, utilities providers and creditors
It’s always a good idea to speak to landlords, utilities providers and creditors – to keep them in the loop of your situation.
Sarah Holt says: ‘They may have help and advice available, which will make things simpler and remove the need for any future contact between yourself and your ex.
‘For example, your landlord may allow you both to pay the remainder of the rent (if both parties opt to forgo the contract) separately and directly to them each month, instead of one person having to take on the financial responsibility and running the risk of their ex stopping payments.’
Change your passwords
Even if you and your ex ended on good terms, it’s vital to keep your accounts protected.
Changing all your passwords and pins to your credit files, banking and other financial platforms may seem drastic, but it’s an important step for safety.
Sarah Holt adds: ‘While it’s never recommended to divulge PIN numbers and passwords with your partner, many of us are guilty of doing so, or at the very least guilty of picking the same or very similar combinations across many of our accounts.
‘Yes, it may be a pain to do in the short term but changing your passwords and PINS across all accounts your partner may have had access to or known about is hugely advisable and can remove the need for any awkward conversations in the long term.’
Co-founder of Moneymedics, Eve Obasuyi, also recommends deleting financial information across all your devices.
She says: ‘In an era of internet connectivity it is important to remove all your banking account data that may be saved on different websites but also to ensure any debit cards or credit cards are not sent to the address where you may have previously lived together.’
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