Experiencing financial fraud can be a devastating and overwhelming experience. When it’s your spouse who has committed the financial fraud, however, an already difficult situation is made even worse, bringing with it difficult feelings of betrayal and confusion about what to do next.
In a recent article from MSN, a reader detailed her experience discovering that her ex-husband had forged her signature for two home equity loans he secretly took out as their divorce was pending. The reader wasn’t sure about her options for protecting herself or the consequences for her former spouse. Their house was for sale, but a good chunk of the equity was now gone and two balloon payments – with her name on them – were coming due.
Are you concerned about – or in the midst of – a similar situation? If you suspect that your signature has been forged on a loan or your spouse committed financial fraud in other ways, it is crucial to act promptly. Here are some immediate steps to consider:
Contact the Lender: Reach out to the financial institution that issued the loan and inform them of the fraud. Provide any documentation and evidence you have to support your claim. Ask the lender to provide you with records pertaining to the account, including the loan origination documents. The lender may require a written statement or a police report or court order to release details, so be prepared to provide this information.
File a Police Report: Reporting the forgery to the police can be a necessary step. Lenders may require this as part of their investigation into the fraud/forgery claim. The police report also serves as documentation for other institutions, such as credit reporting agencies, as you work to rectify the situation. By filing a police report, be prepared that the police will follow up with your former spouse and will take appropriate action based on facts they gather, which can include arrest.
Check Your Credit Reports: Review your credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to ensure no other fraudulent activities have occurred. Report any discrepancies to the agencies immediately. Add any additional fraudulent activity to the police report.
Place a Fraud Alert: Contact one of the major credit reporting agencies and request a fraud alert to be placed on your credit file. This will make it more difficult for anyone to open new accounts in your name in the future.
Legal Recourse After A Spouse Committed Financial Fraud
Spouses do not have the right to sign documents for each other without consent or through the legal mechanism of a Power of Attorney. Forgery is a serious crime, and the perpetrator can face legal consequences such as fines, probation, or even imprisonment. As the victim, you have the right to take legal action against the person who forged your signature. It is recommended to consult with an attorney who specializes in financial fraud cases to determine the best course of action.
In some cases, the lender may be willing to work with you to remove the fraudulent loan from your credit report and absolve you of responsibility for repayment. However, this will depend on the lender’s policies and the specific circumstances of the case. It is in your best interests to share evidence of fraud with your divorce attorney who can help you understand your rights.
Have financial concerns in your divorce? We can help. Schedule a consultation with one of our highly skilled family law attorneys by calling us at 888-888-0919. Get answers to your questions and start protecting yourself today.