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Topics addressed on October 1, 2008:
Recovering from joint credit card debt with ex-boyfriend
I just found out today that the credit card that was in both my name and my ex-boyfriend’s name was never cancelled, although he claimed he would cancel it. In fact, it is now four months over due and is far over the credit limit because of late and over the limit fees. Now that I know, what is the best way to take care of this? If I bring it current, is there a way for my credit rating to be repaired quickly, or will this tarnish my credit for years to come?
Your situation is an example of why I strongly discourage anyone from entering into a joint credit arrangement with a boyfriend or girlfriend. At the time, it may seem that you are going to have a long and loving future, but the relationship can crumble quickly.
Unlike a marriage, where you may have some legal recourse, when you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you are on your own, but you both may be stuck with debt neither of you want and that hurts you both for months or years.
Because it is a joint account, you both share full responsibility for the debt. Even if he is the one who made the charges, you are contractually responsible to pay them.
Definitely call the credit card company, let them know what happened and ask if they have any advice.
At this point, most likely the best thing you can do is pay off the balance if possible and then ask the credit card company to close the account. If you cannot pay the entire balance, pay as much as you can and ask the lender to close the account to further charges.
Doing so will prevent the balance from increasing, and you can begin to make payments to reduce the debt. The missed payments will definitely hurt your credit, but the sooner the debt is repaid, the sooner your credit history will begin to recover.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team