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Take action to prevent a soon-to-be ex-spouse from accessing digital accounts

In this digital age, cyber crimes related to identity theft and breached financial accounts and data are frequent. While an individual can take steps to protect personal and financial digital accounts, doing so can be difficult when facing or going through a divorce.

Trust is a major factor in any relationship and especially in a marriage. It makes sense, therefore, that many spouses openly share passwords and access to financial data, which may be held jointly, with a spouse. What happens, however, when a marriage sours and a former partner turns into a potential adversary who has access to an individual's banking and investment accounts as well as social media and work login and password information?

For those husbands and wives, who don't believe a spouse would ever do anything to harm them financially or professionally and who openly share financial and personal account information with a spouse, consider these findings. In a study, computer and software security provider McAfee found that 20 percent of husbands and wives check a spouse's Facebook account monthly. Additionally, 30 percent admitted to "'cyber-stalking' a significant other's ex on social media."

The Internet provides anonymity and a certain level of distance and ease that may prompt otherwise trustworthy and law-abiding individuals, including spouses, to step over boundaries. It makes sense, therefore, that an even higher percentage of husbands and wives may take action to access a spouse's financial, personal and professional digital accounts and information when facing a divorce.

Once the decision to file for divorce has been made, individuals would be wise to take action to protect their digital accounts and data. First and foremost, it's important to pay off and close all joint accounts and change passwords. It's also wise to request credit reports from all three reporting agencies and to closely monitor any new or suspicious activity.

Source: Daily Local News, "Divorcing? Protect your finances, personal data," Jason Alderman, July 14, 2014

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