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My Former Spouse Ran Up A Fortune In Debts, What Should I Do?

If the debts were in their name, you heave a sigh of relief.  It is a lot easier these days to steer your potential creditor towards the hopefully safe haven of your own credit profile.  They may be aware of your historical association with that person but you are not co-joined with them.  A person’s debts are their own. 

If someone has used the joint bank account to run up debt then I fear you are both likely to be jointly and severely liable for that debt.  That is to say, the bank could pursue each of you for the whole sum or any other split they wish. 

If your signature has been forged on documentation then that is a matter for the police.  There is some debate as to whether you should, first seek to try and clear the debt and then pursue the matter with the police.  There appears to be a view that to do so tends to infer you have accepted responsibility for it.  It is much more difficult to get fraudulent accounts deleted from your credit report. 

The first port of call is to get a credit report and contact the report provider immediately concerning entries with which you disagree.  They should then be able to contact each of the lenders involved saying you have been a victim of identity fraud and that a third party has made a credit application without your authorisation. 

Matters become increasingly complicated if you took out a loan and your partner, rather than using it to pay off the debts being consolidated actually used it for other means.  In such circumstances it is in my experience doubtful the police will assist. 

If you are on amicable terms with your former partner it may be easier to ask them to also contact each of the companies involved and get them to accept liability for the debts upon the basis they might then avoid the police being involved.  It would be a matter for the debt companies as to whether they would be willing to transfer the debt into that person’s name so it would no longer appear on your credit report and affect your credit rating.  

I understand that when a credit report entry is being investigated a marker is put on it to show it has been disputed.  

I recently read a precautionary measure that advised when you believe a fraud or indeed a further fraud may take place, to contact CIFAS the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service.  Signing up to their Protective Registration Service (PRS) apparently places a warning flag against your name and personal details to indicate that you are at risk of identity fraud.  Any CIFAS registered lender, (no doubt the catch) would then be alerted to this fact and undertake additional checks to verify an application is genuine.  

More information can be obtained on 0330 100 0180 and you can register online at www.cifas.org.uk