Help Desk FAQ

Credit reports and scores


How can my spouse’s credit history affect me?

A common misconception is that when a couple marries, their credit history is merged to create a new, combined credit report. Actually, every credit report (and resulting credit score) is tied to a single Social Security number. However, information about joint accounts—credit you apply for under both names—will appear on each of your individual reports. This is true whether the co-borrowers are married or not.

Another misconception is that a divorce settlement can absolve one spouse or the other of liability for a joint debt. Creditors will continue to report account activity on both borrowers’ credit reports even if one spouse has agreed—or been ordered by a judge—to pay off the debt. If your “ex” doesn’t make the required payments, your credit will be damaged unless you step in and cover what’s due. You could even be sued if the creditor cannot get any money from your ex.

If a breakup is looming, either pay off joint debts and close those accounts or try to transfer the balance on any joint account (split 50-50 or whatever ratio you agree on) to two individual accounts and then close the old account.

It’s a good idea to monitor any account you are a co-borrower (or co-signer) on—you may be able to limit the damage to your credit report if you find out sooner rather than later that payments are not being made. All major creditors enable borrowers to check account activity online or by phone.




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