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Credit Reporting Agency Warns About Ex-partner Debts’ Effect on Credit Score

By Faye Mergel
Published: Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Experian warns consumers that their credit score could get hurt if their ex-partner mismanages his or her debts. In a press release, the bureau says couples should also settle debt obligations after divorce to avoid further conflict.

Credit Reporting Agency Warns About Ex-partner Debts’ Effect on Credit ScoreA research by Experian reveals that consumers think that divorce separates them from joint credit obligation with their partner. However, the bureau says creditors do not care how debt obligations are divided after couples separate. Experts add that any debt incurred through a joint account will hold both spouses responsible for it. So if one ex does not meet his obligation with creditors, the other is likely to get a phone call.

Experts note that most couples make an agreement to settle debt obligations they made under one account after they officially get divorced. However, they warn ex-couples that lenders do not abide by personal agreement. If one does not pay, experts say, the other should expect the same harassment from lenders. Specialists say there are ways in order to avoid mix up in credit responsibilities and thus keep each other’s score intact.

Consumers are advised to keep track of credit card accounts they share with their spouse. Experts tell them check if there are accounts their former partner could access either as an authorized user or a joint borrower. Specialists say consumers cannot legally force an authorized card user to help them pay off balances since only joint borrowers are obligated by credit agreements to repay charges made by either couple. Experts add that old cards should also be checked since they could still be used in racking up debts which is not good for a credit score. They advise consumers to check old paper files so they would know about all the accounts they opened. If a person finds this task too onerous, he may just pull out his credit report from the bureaus since creditors send information regarding their clients to the bureaus.

Once a person already knows all his accounts, he can already choose to close or freeze them so no one can incur debt that will later affect his credit score. He may also choose to remove authorized users from his accounts. Credit card accounts with paid off balances can easily be closed but those still carrying a balance can only be locked up to avoid incurring more charges. However, cardholders are reminded that a frozen account prevents both parties from using it. Experts add that couples should proceed to a financial planner after settling their difference with a divorce attorney so they can avoid further disputes.

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