Choosing whether to open a joint bank account with a friend or partner is a personal decision that should not be taken lightly.
Sadly, many domestic abuse victims find themselves unable to escape because their partners have taken control of the finances, subjecting them to severe financial abuse.
I was lucky in that Mike and I did not have joint accounts, but I was naïve in that I transferred almost everything to him every month, without knowing where it was going or what on.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, hey?
Before you make a decision to apply for a joint bank account, here is some information for you to consider:
What is a Joint Bank Account?
Joint bank accounts, otherwise known as joint current accounts, are bank accounts that are designed for two or more people to use.
Each person that is named on the account can deposit and withdraw money, access their account online and have their own debit card to use with it. It can be a useful tool for co-habiting couples or friends to create a budget and share expenses accordingly.
For example, you and your partner open a joint current account to pay into and cover the bills and food budget, which you’ve totalled as £800 a month. You might then agree to split the cost in half and each pay in £400 a month. However, both account holders have access to one another’s money once it has been paid into the account.
What are Signs of Financial Abuse?
Entering a domestically abusive and coercively controlling relationship is not on anyone’s list of couple goals but the truth is, it happens.
For the abuser, obtaining and then maintaining control of their partner is the goal. Removing any obstacles that might offer that partner the ability to free themselves and get away from the abuse is imperative to the abuser. By controlling the finances, the abuser retains control of what their partner can or cannot do or go, where the money is spent and also has access to their partner’s money directly.
Financial abuse is not just limited to those with joint bank accounts and can occur in many different guises. For example, taking out credit in the partner’s name without their knowledge and racking up debts, or even by removing control over a partner’s own personal account.
After Abuse: Financial Connections and Your Credit File
If you are not already in the habit of checking your credit file regularly, it is time to start. This will make you aware of the factors that affect your score. You will also be immediately aware of any activity not directly created by you yourself that could be impacting your credit rating negatively.
Keeping a financial connection with an ex-partner or friend means your credit rating will be impacted if they muddy their own ratings. Through no fault of your own, you will find your change of getting finance or applying for a mortgage will be affected.
Contact the credit reference agencies and ask them to remove their name from your credit rating. Ensure you either remove yourself from the account in question or ask them to remove themselves, or close the account down completely if possible.
What to Do if You Are a Victim of Financial Abuse
Fortunately, banks such as HSBC have signed up to UK Finance’s Code of Practice on dealing with the challenges faced by victims of financial abuse.
If you find yourself in this position, contact your bank who will be able to help you to regain control of your own finances and move forward.