Make sure you close those old credit cards!

I came across this advice column about an ex running up 40k in credit card debt on some old cards.  I don’t know about you, but I sure know a lot of people who have run into trouble for sharing credit cards. Those little pieces of plastic can cause all sorts of problems if you choose to share them.

In this case, a woman had divorced six years previously, but had a joint card and an authorized card with her ex-husband. She didn’t close the joint account or revoke authorization. The ex couldn’t obtain his own cards after the divorce and ran up 40k in debt on the cards. She only learned about the debt recently by checking her credit.

What a nightmare.

Leaving aside the legal aspects as to whether the woman is responsible for the debt to the bank, and/or could seek the money from her ex, there is a great lesson here. When you end a relationship of any kind, if you shared cards, you need to get rid of them or remove the other person’s name if he is just an authorized user. In addition, if you aren’t sure whether the ex has the numbers to your cards, you just might want to be safe and ask your credit card companies to supply new cards with new numbers. If you are in a relationship but aren’t legally married, you might want to think very carefully about whether to have joint accounts or to authorize someone else to use your card. Also, you should check your credit at least a few times a year. You can do so for free once each year with the various credit agencies.

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