It is imperative that consumers are proactive to ensure that they are not a victim of incorrect and inaccurate credit information in the future. View your credit report carefully. And remember, “You have the right to challenge the creditor to show your proof of the debt. Show as much as you need to show to substantiate that it is not yours,” says Berry. If you can get a company to support your claim, attach copies of the documentation from them along with the letter you send to the CRAs. As discussed previously, a person can steal your credit information or you may be the victim of a fraudulent company that has put information on your report without your knowledge.
SAFEGUARD YOUR CREDIT DURING DIVORCE
When Delores Canté applied for a Levitz Furniture charge card in March 1998 to purchase a chic living room suite, she was puzzled and devastated when her application was denied.
“I had just divorced and moved from Laurel, Maryland, to my present home in Tacoma, Washington, and needed furniture for my new place. I was surprised that I would be denied credit because having been in the banking industry for 13 years, I learned how to analyze credit reports and knew how to maintain a good credit rating. I have been explaining to individuals for years why their applications were not approved,” says Canté, a credit analyst for Mutual Bank in Tacoma.
She contacted Equifax and the company mailed her a free copy of her credit report. The report revealed that a mere $69 dental bill from Dental Care of Laurel Lake was the sole hindrance to her getting a $1,300 credit line for furniture. “After our divorce, my ex-husband incurred this expense. Although it was listed in his name, the record contained my Social Security number and birth date. He has had a history of not paying his bills. Like all of his other bills, this one went to a collection [agency]. But I was held responsible for it.”
Unlike with the Johnsons, it took Canté almost a year of battling with the dentist’s office and the credit bureau to have the error removed. “As a result, I pull my credit report every year to make certain that my ex-husband’s bills do not appear on my credit report again,” says Canté. “I would advise everyone to know what is on their credit report. Just a small amount like $69 kept me from getting furniture. If you see something that does not belong to you, handle it right away. Stay on top of these companies. If you forget about it, they will too.”
If you are considering divorce, it is important to know that your joint credit card contracts during your marriage supersede your divorce decree, Griffin says. Even if your divorce decree states that your spouse will pay all joint bills, it does not change your contract with the creditor. If your spouse doesn’t pay, creditors can come after you legally.
Before your divorce, call all creditors and inquire about transferring