How to Protect Yourself Online When Dealing with Divorce
When contemplating divorce or going through divorce, you have more on your plate than perhaps ever before. Protecting yourself online is probably one of the last things on your mind, but it is so important! Not taking these steps puts you at risk for damaging your credit, increasing your debt, having your confidential information in the hands of your spouse or others, damaging your reputation as a parent, or you could even be handing over proof to the legal system that you are at fault in your divorce! Trust me, it’s worth the effort to lock down your online self!
- Change UserIDs and Passwords. Computer logins, appleIDs, emails, your personal bank and credit card accounts – each and every app, device and account you ever access with a login needs to be changed. Total pain in the arse I know, but do you want your spouse checking out emails between you and your lawyer or tracking your spending? Didn’t think so.
- Create a new email account. This adds an additional layer of security. It’s an account your spouse doesn’t know about, and you can keep all divorce related communications housed in this one place. It also has a side benefit of not having divorce related emails attacking you throughout the day!
- Stop Posting. Posting pictures on FaceBook documenting your party pics or hanging out with people or in places you wouldn’t want your spouse to see are a bad idea. You could literally be handing over evidence against yourself. Same concept holds true for Twitter and similar apps. Don’t think your spouse’s lawyer isn’t reviewing your social media accounts! This is a great time for a social media detox.
- Phone Tracking. Smart phones have done an amazing job of keeping families and friends in the loop of each other’s locations and sharing information. This is fine and dandy when that is what you want. I’m fairly sure this isn’t a great idea for those contemplating divorce or going through divorce! Remove your device and account information for all other devices that do not belong to you or that are not with you at all times. If you have an iPhone or iPad, changing your appleID is the first step!
- PIN Numbers. Add and/ or change them all now. This includes passwords to access voicemail, ATM machines, your phone and any accounts. If you do not currently have a PIN on your phone or voicemail, now is a great time to add it. Your spouse can probably access your voicemail accounts from another phone and get messages if you do not have a PIN. No lucky numbers, birthdays or “1234”. Be tricky!
- Electronic Document Storage. You may choose to keep important financial or legal documents electronically instead of just paper based. Keeping everything on an external storage drive that is password protected and kept in a safe place is a good option. Services such as Google Docs and DropBox are also viable options. Both services claim to be highly secure when set up appropriately. Password protecting, encrypting files and using the two step verification adds to your online protection. Read and follow the instructions and be comfortable with the terms and conditions before moving forward.
- Keep confidential info out of your emails. Whether preparing to divorce or not, keeping your social security number, credit card and bank account numbers and other sensitive information out of your emails is necessary. This is about more than your spouse finding information, this is about protecting your identity. Divorce is challenging enough without adding a stolen identity to the mix!
Is your password ‘password’ ?
When changing your userIDs and passwords, avoid the common traps that will leave the door open for your spouse to access these accounts. Your spouse likely knows your commonly used usernames and passwords — so time to get creative and create strong passwords! Keep actual words, children’s names and your lucky numbers out of the passwords. Use at least 8 characters and include symbols, numbers and letters with both forms of capitalization. Keeping track of these passwords is next to impossible without some help. Check out online password managers. Many password managers will also create secure passwords for you. If you choose to keep a hard copy, keep it in a safe that only you can access.
Beware of Changing Joint Accounts
Changing the login information on an account owned by you and your spouse will likely send red flags to your spouse. The company will likely send an automatic email or text notification of the change. The goal is to protect yourself – not lock your spouse out of an account. Also, beware of the message you are sending if your spouse doesn’t yet know you are looking to get divorced! You’ll want to contact each credit card company used for joint accounts and get their advice on how to handle that account based upon your situation and how the account is set up. Keep a close eye on the activity of these joint accounts while both spouses are using the card. You want to ensure cash isn’t disappearing or credit cards aren’t being maxed!
Taking these steps will help keep your money and information secure and will provide you much needed peace of mind. Not only does this help when preparing for divorce, but is also good practice for everyone at anytime. Much more valuable information on this topic and many others is available with your Untangle The Knot Service. Learn more!
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