Protecting Your Identity During a Break UpMarch 26, 2018
In recent articles, we’ve talked about familiar fraud and the risks of identity theft after a separation or divorce. However, you don’t need to have tied the knot to be at risk. Romantic partners can also steal your identity when a relationship hits the skids. A 2013 McAfee study found that in one of every eight relationships that ended badly, an angry ex leaked the other person’s personal data online. Angry exes also commonly take revenge by using personal information to cyberstalk their former partner or steal their identity.
As perfect as your current “soul mate” seems, it’s best not to share too much information, too soon.
In particular, don’t be too quick to share passwords with a new love. The McAfee report found that more than 56% of people snooped on their ex-partner’s social media pages and bank accounts, and almost 49% looked at their e-mails. One man recently posted on FindLaw that his ex-wife had set up a Credit Karma account in his name to monitor his financial activities. Also, don’t rush to merge finances. If you set up a joint bank account or credit card, agree on how much you will each contribute and how the account will be managed. You should also think twice before sending intimate images of yourself to anyone; posting those online is a very popular form of break-up revenge.
If you do go through an unfriendly breakup, here are some ways to protect yourself:
- Change your passwords promptly. Even if you haven’t shared them, your former partner could have had access to your Social Security number, bank statements, medical ID number, or other information that could be used to take over your accounts.
- Cancel any joint accounts immediately and share the money fairly with your ex. (Don’t become the vengeful ex.)
- Set credit freezes with the three major credit bureaus if you haven’t already.
- Sign up for identity protection with monthly monitoring so you’re alerted to any credit fraud, and if your ex opens accounts in your name.
- On your social media accounts, block your ex or mutual acquaintances who might use those accounts to stalk you or publish personal or embarrassing information. This can also be a good way to give yourself distance from the relationship and begin to move on.
If you ever find that an ex -partner (or even an ex-roommate, business partner, or a close friend) has stolen your identity, report the theft promptly to law enforcement. While the ex may see their actions as purely personal, identity theft is a felony. If they’re not stopped, they could steal your identity again in five years or ten.
Remember, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s may ease the emotional pain of a break-up, but it won’t do anything for a stolen identity. When a relationship is over, protecting your identity is a good way to ensure that you can move on with fewer regrets.