Surprise Credit Cards During a Divorce

Illinois Divorce LawyerYou may wake to a nasty surprise during divorce that your spouse has obtained a credit card in your name alone totally without your knowledge and has made large charges to it.

Your spouse may obtain a credit card in your name by asking the card company to send a card to your home address in your name. Also companies still sometimes send unsolicited offers of credit to consumers homes through the mail ( or by email) even though this may be a violation of the Federal Truth in Lending Act or Illinois law.

If your spouse uses the card issued in your name, during a divorce it can be difficult to prove that those charges were made without your consent. Particularly purchases for Household items or normal living expenses, even cash withdrawals made by your spouse may allow that spouse to argue that the credit card charges were made with your permission.

Well, then how do you protect yourself from a surprise credit card? Don't use the card later.

Don't use a credit card that may have been issued in your name some time ago, but just came to your knowledge. Your use of the card now, after your spouse has made charges, makes you potentially responsible for all the present and past charges. In effect, you become a co-signer of the credit card by its use. If your spouse defaults on a payment of the debt, any cosigner on the account assumes full responsibility.

Similarly, any late payments affect not only the primary spouse who applied for the card, but anyone jointly responsible for the debt. Late payments affect 33 percent of a persons credit score, so any late payment anytime, is serious.

Run Your Credit Report

Prior to your divorce or even will divorcing, run your own credit report, Once a year you can obtain a free online credit report to see what cards have been taken out in your name. Read the report over carefully to see if their is anything you don't understand.

Second, opt out of unsolicited offers of credit.

If you decide that you don't want to receive prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you have two choices: You can opt out of receiving them for five years or opt out of receiving them forever.

To opt out for 5 years: Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit Opt Out Prescreen. The phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies.

To opt out permanently: You may begin the permanent opt-out process online through the Opt Out Prescreen site as well. To complete your request, you must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request. To opt out through the regular mail, click here.

Contact an Illinois divorce attorney if you are in need of legal assistance during your divorce process. The attorneys of Martoccio & Martoccio are available for free consultations.

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