Over 2 million people have debts run up by their ex

We’re not taking vital steps to protect ourselves from vengeful exes, and it’s costing us dear

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Couple arguing and being upset. Represents a divorce or other strong argument.

Not only will your ex leave you broken-hearted, there's a horrible chance that they could leave you broke too. A new study has revealed that over two million people have suffered financially, when an ex-partner ran up a debt on a shared credit card - averaging £457 - and that's just the start of it.

In addition to a collective £1.2 billion in credit card debts, ex-partners have run up £313 in joint accounts, £463 in mortgage debt, and £327 on shared online shopping accounts.

Romance

The figures were revealed by uSwitch.com, which discovered that love-struck Brits aren't taking sensible precautions at the start of their relationship. One in five of them had absolutely no idea of their partner's financial history before they opened a joint account with them.

Admittedly, it's not a very romantic question to ask a new partner, but failing to do so can have devastating consequences. Half of those who shared financial products with an ex-partner think it had a significant effect on their own finances. As well as the potential for a vindictive ex to run up debts in your name, there's also the effect they will have on your credit score. Almost a third of people say their credit score dropped as a result of a joint financial product.

Nicolas Frankcom, money expert at uSwitch.com said: "When it comes to finances, only fools rush in. Money might not be the sexiest pillow talk, but not addressing it can lead to financial, as well as emotional, heartache further down the line. Being left with debts that last longer than the relationship only rubs salt in the wound after a breakup."

Protect yourself

Even more alarmingly, when a relationship has broken down, people aren't taking the right approach to securing their finances. More than two thirds of people who have shared a financial product with a former partner say it is still open five years after the split. Meanwhile a third who shared their PIN with their partner haven't found the time to change it, and a fifth who shared a credit card said it remained active when they went their separate ways.

Regardless of how amicable the split is, this is a highly dangerous approach. The financial effects of a break-up can last even longer than the emotional ones if your ex chooses to use the opportunity to spend money your name. Two fifths of people took more than six months to clear the debt, while one in ten took more than five years to get back in the black.

Credit score

Even when the accounts are closed and the debt is cleared, there's a risk that your ex could be damaging your credit score. When you take out any kind of product together, the credit scoring agencies will link you on their systems. So if your ex goes on to make terrible mistakes with borrowing and spending, you could be dragged down with them. After a split, therefore, it's worth getting in touch with the likes of Experian, Equifax, and Callcredit and recording the fact you are no longer together.

As Frankcom says: "The reality is that couples can remain financially linked by their credit report long after a relationship breaks down and an account has been cancelled. If you do nothing else, make sure you keep a check on your own credit report so you can spot anything unusual on it. If you do break up with your partner, make sure to close all shared accounts and contact each of the three main credit agencies to remove any financial links between you and your ex."

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