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Hidden debt could have a long term impact on another person

STRESS: Whilst romance is definitely in the air, it’s important to be aware of the long- erm impact of joint finance

WHILST ROMANCE will be on the cards this Valentine’s Day, consumer credit expert, Equifax, is warning about financial connections that might carry on long after a relationship has ended.

Recent YouGov research commissioned by Equifax reveals that 9% of UK adults who are married or living in a civil partnership said they hide credit card debts from their partner. Unfortunately, when a relationship ends, this hidden debt could have a long-term impact on the other person in the relationship, especially if the couple had taken out joint financial agreements during their time together.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the average marriage lasts 12 years, and men aged 45 to 49 and women in their thirties (ages 30 to 39) are the most likely age groups to divorce. And, the longer the relationship, the more likely there will be joint property and assets to divide when a couple parts. Crucially, any joint financial agreements need to be dealt with too, ensuring they don’t have a negative impact on future finances for either party.

The Equifax commissioned research of people who are married or in a civil partnership shows that 15% have missed a repayment on either a credit card or short-term loan that they hold either solely or on a joint account. In addition, 48% of married respondents who hold a joint or solo credit card can’t afford to pay the full balance due each month.

If a couple has applied to take out a joint financial agreement, their credit information will be linked on each other’s credit files. Once a couple split a lender may look at both individuals’ credit history for future applications, even if they are no longer a couple and the account has been settled and closed.

“Whilst romance is definitely in the air, it’s important to be aware of the long-term impact of joint finances, should the relationship not last, explains Lisa Hardstaff, consumer credit information expert at Equifax. “Our research shows that some couples hide missed payments and credit card debts from each other. But once a relationship is over, this could come back to haunt them with the bad credit behaviour of an ex affecting future credit applications.

Anyone facing a relationship break-up should make sure all accounts are settled and closed down. In addition, they should place a ‘notice of disassociation’ on their credit report. This prevents lenders from viewing an ex’s credit file when they apply for credit, which could impact the application.

“Whilst this isn’t the most sentimental message for Valentine’s Day, people should take care of their financial relationships, as well as their romantic relationships. It pays to take practical steps at the end of a romance to ensure there are no nasty surprises when making new credit applications after the relationship is over.”

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