Make sure your ex isn’t harming your credit score
Former partner hampering your chances of getting credit? Take steps to de-link your reports
When you’re in a long-term relationship, you may decide to take out financial products together, such as a joint bank account or joint mortgage.
But if you do, you need to tread carefully, as this will create a ‘financial association’ on your credit report.
Any financial obligations you have together will show up on your file, and also on your partner’s.
If things don’t work out and you end up going separate ways, you will still be linked financially.
What are the implications of being linked?
While breaking up with a partner will not directly affect your credit score, their activity and borrowing habits can have an impact if there is still a financial association in place.
When you apply for credit, such as cards, loans and mortgages post separation, lenders will be able to scan through your partner’s report too.
If your ex misses a payment or runs into financial difficulty, this could potentially impact on your credit rating and drag you down – making it hard to borrow money in your own name.
This could mean you miss out on the top deals when applying for credit. Worse, it could mean you get rejected altogether.
If the relationship doesn’t work out, it’s important to get links with former partners or spouses removed from your credit record.
Here’s some tips on how to disassociate yourself from an ex.
Check your credit file
First off, you should check your credit report so you know exactly which credit accounts you hold jointly with your partner. Your report will set out details of every financial agreement you have.
You can check your file using our Credit Monitor tool.
As well as a joint account and a joint mortgage, you may have other shared finances, such as a joint credit card, joint loan, or a car bought together on joint finance. Make a list of all these shared agreements. You may be surprised to see how many you have.
Take steps to ‘un-link’ yourself
To remove the link between you and your ex, close joint credit agreements as soon as you can and open new ones in your name.
The sooner you do this, the lower the chance of the pair of you ending up in disputes over payments.
If you can’t – or don’t want to – close an agreement, get it amended.
Be aware that amending a joint mortgage can be complicated, so make sure you talk through all the options with your lender. They can help you work out what to do with your shared house or flat.
Get your ex-partner’s information removed from your report
Once you’ve ended or changed all joint accounts, you need to contact the three main credit reference agencies – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax – and ask for a ‘notice of disassociation’ to be added to your credit report.
This process of financial disassociation will ‘un-couple’ your files in the eyes of lenders.
If you don’t request the de-linking, the financial association will remain on your report indefinitely – even after an account is closed down, or after you’ve finished paying off a loan.
Keep a close eye on your credit record
Once you’ve parted ways, be disciplined about regularly checking your credit file.
If a joint account shouldn’t be there any more, make sure your report has been updated to reflect this.
If you see anything you’re not sure about, speak to the credit reference agency.
Flag any applications for credit that you don’t recognise. This will also help protect you from fraudulent activity.
Think carefully about who you get ‘financially linked’ with in the future
Going forward, be very cautious when taking out joint finances.
This applies not only to couples, but also to those living in a house-share, such as students or young professionals. If you have joint household bills with flat-mates, or a joint account to pay rent, this will mean you are financially linked.
Tread very carefully, and make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting into.