When my relationship with my ex broke down we both moved on, and within 2 years we both lived with other people. Our story is an all-round happy one, but it's easy to see how a whole group of people can become financially entwined really quite quickly. It would never have occurred to me that my exes new partner's financial history had any effect on me, and could affect my ability to get any credit from a mortgage through to a mobile phone.
I'm not alone. Almost 11.7 British people took out a joint financial product with a partner they’re now separated from, and 69% of us didn’t realise a link still exists when we close the account. Less than 3% of people surveyed by Censuswide knew you were linked for 6 years*.
Aside from my mortgage I've never been much of a borrower (and I've never ever paid any PPI, so please stop ringing). I knew very little about credit scores and reports except that everyone has one, and that's about it. ClearScore - What is a credit record? was my first stop to get the basics.
It seems my credit score will be mainly based on my mortgage payments, so should be okay. Having never had any other loan, I was advised by a friend several years ago to take out a catalogue, just so that I could pay it off and bump my credit score. Now I have read the Money Saving Expert page about debunking myths, I know that didn't do me any harm, which is always nice to have confirmed.
I'm not going to become obsessed with my credit score, in fact it's something I don't want to have to think about too much, so I'm glad the only person I'm linked to is my current partner. I'm lucky, I got on with my ex and he was financially stable, but it's very easy for anyone to come unstuck and a lot of splits are not so friendly, whether between a couple, friends or business partners.
A study by Totally Money showed that up to 60% of credit card applications are rejected each year. If you were unexpectedly refused credit, how many links would you still have? Sadly the Censuswide research found 51% of people surveyed thought that taking out a joint financial product with an ex has negatively impacted their credit score.
It's not all bad news, you can request for your relationship to be severed if your ex-partner has a history of financial behaviour that lenders frown upon. The advice from ClearScore is that when a relationship ends, it’s your responsibility to ‘de-link’ your financial records. "Check your credit report and, if you’re still linked to someone whose financial behaviour you suspect could be detrimental, contact the credit reference agencies to request that your connection is severed.”
And another thing I learned today from the BBC News...it might be easier to sever your financial ties than your actual marriage...
*Research conducted with 2,109 UK adults (aged 18+) by Censuswide between 08.02.17 and 09.02.17
I was paid for the time taken to write this post.