Your credit rating may be your most important asset. Many people do not realize the effect a divorce can have on personal credit. When they do, it is often too late. Don't let this happen to you. If you are currently involved in a divorce, or if you may be going through a divorce in the near future, there are several steps you can take to protect your credit rating.
"I constantly see divorcees having their credit destroyed as the result of divorce," says Karen Meislik, a divorce attorney in New Jersey. "You can spend your life establishing good credit, only to have it ruined in just a few short months. I always stress this to new clients and make sure they do everything they can to protect themselves."
Throughout your divorce, you must make sure that your bills are paid on time. Do not refuse to pay bills in an effort to harm your spouse. You and your spouse are obligated to pay these bills, so you will be hurting yourself just as much your spouse. Failure to pay will harm your credit and will remain on your credit report for the next seven years.
You may also consider putting a fraud alert on your credit report. Although this will prevent you from gaining instant credit, this will also prevent many creditors from approving new accounts without speaking to you first.
Following the divorce, you can protect your credit by learning your credit history and score. You can do this by obtaining a copy of your credit report. Most states entitle you to a free credit report every year. New federal law does so too. Be sure to get a copy of your credit report from multiple credit bureaus, as your information may vary on the different reports. If there are any inconsistencies, or any information is incorrect, or even if something confuses you, call the bureau and find out what the problem is. You need to understand your credit report if you are going to protect yourself.
If you think that any information on your credit report is incorrect, you need to notify the credit bureau immediately. They will send you a form, speak with the creditor, and notify you of the outcome. If you are dissatisfied with the result, you can add a statement to the report explaining your side of the story.