According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, hard times could mean more economic abuse for some. Economic abuse is when one person uses money or money difficulties to control or harm another.
What it looks like:
- Controlling access to a shared bank account by confiscating or "holding hostage" ATM cards and checkbooks.
- Maxing out credit cards or accumulating debt in the other person's name (most likely a spouse) without that person's knowledge or permission.
- Forcibly taking a person's paycheck.
- Destroying a person's financial health by failing to pay bills such as a mortgage, thus exposing them to foreclosure risk.
Usually economic abuse occurs between couples; but it can also happen between friends and/or family such as a parent, child or other relative. Victims of economic abuse often face foreclosure, creditor lawsuits and ruined finances because of abuse.
If you find yourself a victim of economic abuse the Dallas Morning News article gave the following good advice:
- Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 to learn about affordable housing, emergency assistance funds or utility or rent assistance.
- Watch your credit report to see whether anyone has opened credit in your name. For a free annual credit report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. You can also contact the three credit bureaus (but there may be a fee for the report): Equifax, 800-685-1111; Experian, 888-397-3742, or TransUnion, 800-916-8800.
- Open a post office box for mail and any financial information you may receive. Do this before you leave the abusive situation or immediately after you leave.
- Call your utility companies, wireless telephone service and financial institutions to secure your private financial information with special PIN codes and passwords. Ask these companies to use identifiers other than your Social Security number, date of birth or mother's maiden name to authenticate your identity.
- Change all ATM and debit card PIN codes, online banking passwords and online investing passwords. Change the password on your e-mail account.
- Change insurance plans, will or trust beneficiaries to appoint a new person if your partner is your current designee.
Also, remember that if you are facing foreclosure or other financial issues, filing bankruptcy may be the relief you need. Bankruptcy can discharge most debts and/or allow you to repay the debts under reasonable terms. To find out more about bankruptcy, contact a Dallas-Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney today.