When you got married, perhaps there was much you still did not know about your mate. You have found out over time that they have been scamming you since you met them. Now that you are divorcing, you feel even more vulnerable. There are some ways to protect yourself.
Hiding Your Important Stuff
You may still be a bit in denial about your partner's capabilities to defraud and abuse you financially.
However, there are several things you should do post haste. One is to take gather all your IDs (driver's license, work id, social security card, birth certificate, and passport), financial documents (including blank checks), credit cards, plus your financial information and put them in an inaccessible place from your soon-to-be ex. If you don't, they could find a cohort who looks like you to help them clean out your bank accounts, run up your credit, and commit check fraud in your name.
Of course, you will have to disclose your financial situation including assets and income to the lawyers handling your divorce so assets can be divided equally or equitably.
If you don't hide your jewelry and other small valuables, you might come home to find them gone and a pawn slip on the floor collecting dust, or worse -- they could sell the items to an unknown collector.
Protecting Your Credit
You will want to call all your creditors and tell them that you are getting a divorce and have them remove your ex's name from the any accounts they are allowed to use.
You will also want to get credit reports from the three major credit reporting bureaus, and put a fraud alert or credit freeze in place to contact you when someone is trying to use your credit. If you alert one of the three bureaus, they will alert the other two. You can call on of them at these numbers: Equifax: (877) 576-5734; TransUnion: (800) 680-7289 or Experian: (888) 397-3742.
If your ex tries to use your credit without your permission, don't hesitate to call the police and report it. By doing all you can to prevent losses this way and holding the ex accountable for their behavior, you increase your credibility and this will be important when and if other issues arise.
Changing Your Social Security Number
You may feel vulnerable since your ex knows so much about you including your social security and birth date, so you may consider changing your social security number. There are some things you should know about doing this.
One is that you may have trouble getting credit in the future due to the fact that no credit history will be attached to the number. At the same time, the old number will continue to be assigned to you. There will be an indicator attached to it by the IRS and other governmental agencies so that any activity on the number will be referenced back to them.
Applying For Innocent Spouse Tax Relief
If your spouse has been underreporting income, taking too many deductions, or otherwise racking up a large tax debt without your knowledge during your marriage, and you can show you were not benefitting, you can file for innocent spouse tax relief. You would need to file an IRS Form 8857 that can be used for multiple years as soon as you find out about the problem because, depending on the situation, there could be a two-year time limit for relief.
You will want to hide and protect your identification and important items, arrange for fraud alerts, possibly change your social security number, apply for ISTR, and be prepared to report financial abuse to the police. Also, you will need to contact a divorce lawyer (such as Law Office of Jeffrey Dragon) for specific legal advice concerning your situation.