Husband and Wife Credit Report

Credit Report Rights and responsibilities in marriage and divorce

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires that companies reporting to credit bureaus must make their reports in the names of both husband and wife if both use an account or are responsible for repaying the debt.

What if an account was in my husband's name only?

Some women who are divorced or widowed might not have separate credit histories because credit accounts were listed in their husband's name only.

Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, creditors must consider the credit history of accounts women have held jointly with their husbands.

If you can show that an account reflects your own creditworthiness, creditors must look at the record. Be sure to point out, if true, that you handled all accounts properly when married and that bills were paid by checks from a joint checking account.

You can also try to show that an account doesn't reflect on your own credit worthiness. If, for example, your "ex" was a bad credit risk.

Open your own accounts to be sure of starting your own credit history.

Do I have a right to get a credit report on my spouse or ex-spouse?

No. The Fair Credit Reporting Act only allows individuals to get credit reports on themselves.  This excludes you, and/or your attorney from getting a credit report on your spouse.

(Credit reports can be provided in response to the order of a court having jurisdiction to issue such an order, or a subpoena issued in connection with proceedings before a Federal grand jury.  These requests must be made by the court directly to the credit reporting agency.)

Joint Accounts in Marriage and Divorce

During marriage, both spouses are responsible for joint accounts, and they should appear on the credit report of husband, as well as wife.

After a divorce, both spouses remain responsible for joint accounts. It is up to you to ensure that joint accounts are closed.  A creditor cannot close a joint account because of your change in marital status without the permission of one spouse or the other. A creditor can close a joint account at the request of either spouse.

As an alternative, you may be able to get the creditor to remove you or your ex-spouse from responsibility for the debt, or to convert the joint account to individual accounts. You might be required to reapply for credit individually. Based on your new applications, you could be given or denied credit. In the case of a mortgage or home equity loan,  refinancing might be necessary in order to remove a spouse from the obligation.

After a reasonable period of time for the paperwork to get into the system, be sure to order a personal credit report to verify that the accounts are listed the way you believe they should.

Authorized Users

Another classification in credit reporting is that of an authorized user. This is a person who is not contractually liable for paying the debt, but is authorized to use the account or credit card of another.

When a spouse is an authorized user, it must be shown as such in both person's names, if it is reported to the credit bureau.


Account Classifications

Individual Account. Applies to a specific individual, and nobody else. The individual is responsible for payment.
Joint Account The individual, as well as other individual(s) are responsible for payment on the account.
Authorized User A shared account, but someone else has the responsibility for payment.
Co-maker The person has co-signed for an installment loan, and is responsible if the borrower defaults.
Maker The person is responsible for the payment of an installment loan, but a co-maker is involved to insure that the loan will be repaid.
On Behalf Of Another Person The person is responsible for the account, but the account is used exclusively by someone else.
Terminated The person shared this account at one time, but has been removed from the account, leaving the other person responsible. (Sometimes used in divorce.)
Unspecified There may be cases where an account type is undesignated, or shared but otherwise undesignated.

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