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Dave Says: Identity Theft in a Divorce?

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Dear Dave,

If a wife takes out a credit card in her husband’s name without his knowledge, and they get divorced, can the husband claim identity theft?

Nancy

Dear Nancy,

Absolutely! Unless they have power of attorney, anytime someone opens an account in a name other than their own, they have stolen an identity. Being married to someone doesn’t give you the right to sign their name to a document.

I knew a guy in the real estate business years ago who was doing a lot of property deals under his own name. Occasionally, the title company would require his wife’s signature, and he would sign her name on the papers himself. Sometimes he signed her name after calling her up and explaining what was happening, and she was okay with the situation. Then, he signed some papers she didn’t know about, and it came back to bite him. He was charged with criminal fraud!

You cannot legally sign your spouse’s name without first having power of attorney privileges. If you do, it’s called identity theft. It’s a crime anytime you lie to get money.

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 6 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.

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