Know the Laws:
UPDATED March 19, 2013
Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent, e.g., maintaining total control over financial resources and withholding access to money, are some forms of financial abuse (also called economic abuse). Below is information on how to handle the aftermath of this type of abuse, including dealing with credit card debt and identity theft.
Financial abuse is one form of domestic abuse. Withholding money, stealing money and restricting the use of finances are some examples of financial abuse. To figure out if your partner is financially abusing you, think about how you are being treated by answering the following questions.
Does your partner:
If the abuser has access to your credit card statements, Social Security number or other identifying information, this can make it easier for him/her to open up accounts in your name or access current accounts. (If s/he has your children’s Social Security numbers, s/he can even try to open accounts in your children’s names.) You might want to consider taking proactive measures to keep your personal information safe.
Some actions you can take are to call your bank and credit card companies and ask that they change your account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords and other access codes. Try to create passwords that would be hard for someone to guess. If you access your bank account through your personal computer or if you store your financial information on your personal computer, make sure you are using a safe computer that the abuser cannot access and has not installed spyware on. To read more about keeping your computer safe, go to our Internet Security page. If appropriate and possible, you may want to consider enrolling in a reputable credit protection program through your current credit card company or bank. Please note, there may be a one-time or annual fee associated with such protection.
Generally, it is not a good idea to co-sign any financial contracts, including credit cards, with someone you do not trust completely to be honest and responsible about paying it off. If something happens, such as the other person disappears or refuses to make payments, you can be held responsible for paying off the debt and your credit can be ruined if you don’t make timely payments. If you have already co-signed on a loan or credit card and the other person has failed to make payments, please read information under the section After the abuser has taken your money and/or run up debt in your name.