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My ex-husband keeps trying to find out my banking information. We have been divorced for 3 years but still involved in the family court system. Over the past years, he's

  1. opened closed accounts,

  2. brought his girlfriend along with him to the bank to get information by having her pretend she's me,

  3. given out my social security number, and

  4. filled out transfers requesting money from me.

I've changed banks so he wouldn't know where I banked, but he found out.

Most recently, he went to the bank and attempted to find out information about my RRSP, asking for very specific details. He attempted to get them to fill out a transfer form as if he's going to transfer money. He has no money to transfer to me and even if he did he wouldn't voluntarily do so.

Not only am I tired of this financial abuse but it's causing me so much extra work every time he attempts to find out information. I can not imagine why he needs my information but I assume it's for nothing good.

The bank/s does/do not do anything about this except reassure me that he won't get my information. Any suggestions???

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  • 11
    Given the mention of RRSP, I assume this is Canada? Perhaps you could add that tag to the question as the answers are likely to be jurisdiction specific. May 7 at 11:34
  • 55
    Do you currently have a lawyer helping you with your ongoing involvement in family court? If yes - you need to talk to your lawyer and not strangers on the internet.
    – Freiheit
    May 7 at 13:34
  • 47
    This is a legal issue, not a question of personal finance.
    – chepner
    May 7 at 14:28
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    @TooTea: "forget about it" is dismissive and counterproductive. I trust the OP to be the best judge of whether a situation is dangerous. May 7 at 19:26
  • 15
    @chepner Securing your money and preventing identity theft are indeed related to personal finance and are on-topic here. May 7 at 19:40
68

Ask your lawyer if it makes sense to press criminal charges against your ex-husband and/or his girlfriend for attempted identity theft, harassment and/or fraud.

Other than that you can only hope that the banks fulfill their promise and won't allow him to succeed. But should he somehow manage to access your bank account, you might be able to take legal actions against the bank. When he somehow manages to fraudulently withdraw funds, then the bank would be obligated to transfer those back to you. If he somehow manages to obtain information about your account balance and transfers, and him knowing that information causes you tangible damage, then you might be able to sue the bank for said damage. They neglected their responsibility to maintain banking confidentiality, and when they don't, then they are liable for damages (again, consult your lawyer for details).

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  • 17
    Could make a criminal complaint against the girlfriend, too. May 7 at 16:04
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    In addition, I would document everything he's done and share that with the bank. That should encourage them keep a closer eye whenever anyone tries to do anything regarding your account. (And in the event of tangible damage, you having warned the bank would be a factor in your favor.)
    – Teepeemm
    May 7 at 21:54
35

Ryan's Law: if it wasn't written down, it didn't happen

The problem is, it's all just more "He said, she said" unless there is physical evidence.

Collect evidence.

Keep contemporaneous notes of everything

You may remember James Comey describing a having a nagging feeling, right after a meeting, of "I really better take physical notes of that meeting right now while it's fresh in my mind".

Those are called "contemporaneous notes". They are powerful evidence.

You can strengthen their power by having an impartial notary public notarize the notes.

You can also strengthen them by timely giving a copy to your lawyer to put in your file. The lawyer is not impartial, but courts generally trust lawyers' clerical staff to be honest and not perjure themselves.

File police reports

Anytime you hear about a thing like that, file a police report, preferably at the bank while it is open. A police report is simply you having the officer take down your info and make a report. The purpose of police reports is to create evidence for use by courts later.

The officer will take a statement (you can give the officer a copy of those contemporaneous notes) and the officer may also talk to bank staff, and get impartial data from them.

Then, use this as leverage against the ex.

Now, you have stuff you can wave around in court or at settlement hearings. The documentable cases of abuse and attempted crime will put the ex at distinct disadvantage for alimony, custody, asset control and whatnot. If it continues to happen and you keep documenting, the ex could even wind up serving nights in jail for contempt of court. (Brazenly defying a judge's order; there's no trial, it just happens).

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    Why use a notary? Email is a timestamped digital signature too? May 8 at 5:14
  • 7
    @aliential spoofing email addresses etc is trivial.
    – alephzero
    May 8 at 12:50
  • @alephzero Spoofing DKIM is considerably harder. Whilst DKIM should not function as a digital notary service, it does, and we might as well make use of that.
    – wizzwizz4
    May 8 at 14:37
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    @wizzwizz4, I'm pretty sure that most jurisdictions don't accept DKIM signatures as a legal form of notarisation, even if they are created by the likes of big companies such as Google. Likewise, even RFC3161-based and decentralised blockchain-based timestamps are not recognised in most courts, to my knowledge.
    – Jivan Pal
    May 8 at 15:50
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    @aliential That works for science. In court, the opposition will do everything they can to discredit the evidence, and they'll be arguing to an unsophisticated judge and jury. Do you really want to fly out some Google techs at your own expense to testify to the accuracy of Gmail timestamps, only to have the opposing counsel screw with their heads and rattle them in cross? May 8 at 16:53
19

If he has your social security number, and is handing it out, I'd at least consider trying to get a new Social Insurance number, which you can do if you are the victim of identity theft (clearly yes), and it's likely to recur. Also, get a lawyer, or just make a criminal complaint to the police about what has been happening.

4
  • I don't think it's "clearly yes", because there have only been unsuccessful attempts at identity theft.
    – danuker
    May 8 at 8:11
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    @danuker Typically attempted crimes are still crimes even if they fail.
    – TylerH
    May 8 at 9:02
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    There are some considerations why you may want to choose not to (and it is a fairly complex process), at least for Canada.
    – xngtng
    May 8 at 11:13
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    In Canada, we have a Social Insurance Number. This number cannot be changed once issued. May 8 at 17:23
13

I've actually dealt with an almost identical situation more than once. Close your bank account and open a new one in your name. Then have the bank issue a fraud alert on all previous accounts. If your ex-husband and his girlfriend attempt any transactions of any kind on these accounts the bank will involve law enforcement and have fraud charges leveled against your ex-husband and the girlfriend. When doing bank teller transactions on your ATM card specify on the card to use photo id only instead of signing your name on the back of it. If the picture and the info on the ID match your account. Keep a vigilent eye on your account balance and watch for unauthorized transactions and report this to the bank. Do your banking online and have your bills and bank statements online as well to avoid potential mail theft. When banking online as mentioned by other posters secure passwords are essential. Shred documents religiously and DO NOT ALLOW your ex-husband into your dwelling. The reason he has your social insurance number is probably he swiped the card from your purse.

Avoid social media. People share far too much personal information online some of which can be used for ID theft.

If you need documentation with regard to fraud attempts the bank with give you copies of the attempts. A gift from God for your lawyer. :)

One thing I have noticed that people who try fraud are not overly intelligent and can be defeated if you out think them.

In my case , years ago It was the janitor of my apartment using his pass key to rip off tenants. He stole cheques from me and tried to cash them. I reported strange tranactions to the bank. They closed the account. He tried a second cheque and the merchant asked for 2 pieces of ID. Instead of trying to sign my name to the cheques...he signed his own and on the back was his driver license #,social insurance #. True Story by the way...5 tears in prison for that yo-yo :)

A wise man once said, "If everyone is out to get you, paranoia is just wishful thinking"

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    Presumably the ex-husband has the OP's Social Insurance Number because they had been married and e.g. filed their taxes not because he snuck into their dwelling after the divorce... May 8 at 16:03
  • In cases of identity theft and fraud I assume worst case scenarios given what he has put her through. That is also a possibility I hadn't considered .
    – Old_Fossil
    May 8 at 23:21
6

In addition to the other answers I would highly advise the following cyber-security related precautions:

Make sure that all passwords for banking websites, government websites, as well as email accounts are:

  • Fully different from each other. No templates like SecurePhraseA1, SecurePhraseA2, etc.
  • randomly generated
  • ideally 20-40 characters long with every character-class (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, symbols)
  • stored in a password manager which itself has a strong master password.

To reiterate, ensure that no accounts (even things like netflix or your burner email account) share passwords or have easily guessable passwords.

While you're at it, may as well make sure your phone and computer(s) are protected by a password or pattern.

If I was desperate enough to try physically gain access to someone's bank account at the bank, I would definitely be trying to get into any account of theirs, leapfrog from that to their email, then from there to their bank accounts.

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  • 4
    If you're going to put all your eggs in one basket, choose the basket carefully. Depending on OP's security situation, it may be better off on paper in a filing cabinet in their house. May 7 at 22:45
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    None of my several major financial sites accept passwords over 20 characters long. May 8 at 3:41
  • 2
    @wizzwizz4 using non-ASCII characters in passwords is just asking for operational trouble; the KISS principle comes to mind. Banks have long-established and well-enforced legal responsibilities which are much more powerful than a 6-character emoji password that you might never enter correctly again.
    – Jivan Pal
    May 8 at 15:41
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    Re those 20-40 character passwords, you've now created passwords so secure that you can't even access the account yourself :-(
    – jamesqf
    May 8 at 16:50
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    @wizzwizz4: Indeed, many of us HAVE to lie on those "security" questions, because they all seem to depend on having grown up in an upper middle class western culture. I mean, favorite restaurant in college, like I had money to eat in restaurants back then? So I have to make up random lies, and then write down the question and lie for future use. Real secure, that :-)
    – jamesqf
    May 8 at 16:52
3

In addition to the recommendations in the other answers, it is likely a good idea to place a credit freeze with the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Your ex-husband has access to all of your personal information, including your social security number. It would be easy for him to open a credit account in your name. A freeze would provide a considerable impediment to opening new accounts. You can "thaw" the freezes whenever you need to open a new account.

The process can be begun at these links:

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    The question is about Canada.
    – Flux
    May 8 at 16:09

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