Can You Prosecute an Ex-Spouse for Credit Card Fraud?

by Jack Ori ; Updated July 27, 2017

Most of us know to shield our Social Security numbers and ATM codes from prying eyes so that identity thieves cannot steal our information. But sometimes the thief isn't a stranger; he is someone we used to love. Some ex-spouses commit this type of credit card fraud to continue a campaign of harassment, while others don't realize the fraud will hurt their former spouses. Whatever the reason, identity theft is a crime, and you have the right to protect yourself by prosecuting your ex-spouse.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a federal offense in which a person steals another person's sensitive information to fraudulently open credit accounts in that person's name, usually with the intention of purchasing goods and services without paying for them. Thus, if your ex-spouse is using your information or your children's information to open credit accounts for himself, he is guilty of identity theft. Contact your local police and your state's attorney general regarding identity theft.

Alternative

If you do not want to press charges against your ex-spouse, you can try contacting your credit card company to inform it of the fraud. However, the Mercer County Sheriff's Office in Ohio reports that credit card companies often require a police report as proof that fraud occurred. Therefore, you may not be able to resolve the situation with your credit card company unless you also file a police report and press charges against your ex-spouse.

Considerations

You may be reluctant to press charges against your ex-spouse because you still have positive feelings towards her or don't want to have to explain the situation to your children. However, if you ignore credit card fraud and someone else reports your ex-spouse for this behavior, you may be charged as an accomplice because you had knowledge of the crime and did not report it. In addition, if your ex-spouse uses your child's Social Security number to fraudulently open lines of credit, your child's credit may be hurt or destroyed before she is even old enough to get her first credit card.

Divorce Settlement

In some cases, the police may believe that your battle with your ex-spouse over credit card fraud is simply part of an ongoing war between divorcing spouses. If the police refuse to take you seriously, you may have to go through the civil courts instead of the criminal courts. Ask your attorney to send a cease-and-desist letter to your ex-spouse. If this does not resolve the situation, write a letter to each creditor your ex-spouse has deceived explaining the situation and asking the creditor to take action. Send the letter with a copy of your divorce decree. The creditors can then close your ex-spouse's accounts and contact law enforcement about the issue.

About the Author

Jack Ori has been a writer since 2009. He has worked with clients in the legal, financial and nonprofit industries, as well as contributed self-help articles to various publications.