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My Ex-Boyfriend Took Out Credit Cards in My Name: HELP!

My Ex-Boyfriend Took Out Credit Cards in My Name: HELP!We recently read a story about a woman who lived with her partner for nine years. The woman found out her boyfriend at the time had taken out two credit cards in her name without her permission. He said he would pay off the debts when she confronted him about it. He did for some time and then fell behind.

When the woman’s father found out, he immediately advised her to take legal action. She did not. Two years after leaving the relationship, the cards are still open and have balances. The ex-boyfriend has stopped paying because he lost his job. Non-payment has caused the credit card payments to fall behind and negatively affected the woman’s credit. And make no mistake: she is on the hook for the money owed.

What can you do if your ex opens accounts in your name?

If this happens to you, there are some steps you can take – but it won’t be easy. First things first, you must close the card. You will also need to get a plan together for paying it back. You may be able to talk with someone at the credit card company about this plan. If you are in the process of a divorce and discover your ex has stolen from you, we can help with this, too. You can also try to report the cards as fraud; however, the companies will ask you if you knew about them and for how long. In the case of the woman in the article, since she has allowed her ex to continue using and paying them, she can be held complicit, and the card company can hold her liable for those debts.

At this point, all she can really do is freeze the cards and seek legal action, likely through small claims court. The issue is, what it is going to cost to go after the money owed? In the case above, the woman will need to decide whether it is worth it to pursue such a claim. In cases where the fraudulent credit cards are uncovered during a divorce – usually when we start reviewing your assets as part of the equitable distribution process – we can take steps to ensure that these hidden debts come to light.

This is one reason why we recommend keeping an eye on your credit reports. And if your partner (ex or not) opens a line of credit in your name without your knowledge, consider calling an attorney for help.

Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse

We understand that being with someone for nine years does bear weight on a person’s decision-making, especially if manipulation and abuse are involved. We also understand that many people don’t look at financial abuse the same way they look at physical abuse – but we think you should. Financial manipulation is a form of coercive control, a series of “manipulative, grooming-like behaviors that can create a situation that is challenging to leave.”

Financial abuse is prevalent among women, especially millennial women. It is estimated that nearly 70% of millennial women have been victims of financial abuse in a romantic relationship. Financial abuse can be subtle or obvious, depending on how it is done. It often begins with small nuances like your partner making you feel guilty for spending your own money. Then it can escalate to your partner trying to control all finances and manipulating you to quit your job. Other signs of financial abuse include:

  • Opening credit cards in your name unbeknownst to you
  • Hiding money and assets from you
  • Defaulting on shared accounts or accounts in your name
  • Sabotaging your career
  • Manipulating you into asking for loans from family, friends, or financial institutions that are never paid back
  • Restricting access to your bank accounts
  • Not allowing you independent accounts

When you notice these signs, confront your partner. If there is financial abuse, they will likely attempt to spin the circumstances and blame your lack of financial accountability. They may even say that you could have just said no to opening those accounts or badger you for being hard on them during tough times. The number of excuses that an abusive partner will come up with is endless.

What can I do if my partner is stealing money from me?

If you are not in fear of your safety or the safety of your children, you will need to gather all important documentation to leave and be able to regain control of your financial picture. When access to a bank account has been denied, you will need to save cash instead. Start recording how your finances are being abused. You can do this by running a credit check, but also by taking screenshots of anything that looks “funny” in your accounts. Bring copies of this data to your Charlotte divorce lawyer, along with statements for your credit cards, checking/savings accounts, retirement accounts, and any other accounts you have. Change your passwords, but don’t close the accounts until after you’ve spoken to your lawyer and/or your financial advisor and informed them of what you’re doing.

One thing to remember, though, is that most accounts require identification to open – even credit cards. As such, there is a very good chance your Social Security Number is compromised, and THIS is why you need to talk to a lawyer right away. If your partner or your ex is using your SSN to get money, there’s every reason to believe that he or she would use it for other reasons, too. Far more than just your money and your credit report could be at stake.

What can I do if my partner is physically abusing me?

Before taking any steps, you need to assess your risk factors. If physical abuse is present or you fear for your life, you must carefully calculate your next moves. Your safety is the priority. You can find local emergency shelters here by searching with your zip code. Safe Alliance also has a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Mecklenburg County.

There are many forms of abuse; financial manipulation is one of them. But you do have legal options if your partner or ex is abusing you financially.  Contact Epperson Law Group, PLLC, at 704-321-0031, or complete a contact form to schedule a consultation today. We maintain offices in Charlotte, Weddington, Boone, and Concord, for your convenience.