Former wife leaves behind bankruptcy debt

Joint accounts,
David became concerned when his bank declined a personal loan application because of a default listing on his credit card. A credit check had revealed an unpaid debt to another bank. David could not remember ever having had a relationship with that bank.
June 2008

Our investigation

It turned out David and his former wife had jointly applied for a credit card account many years previously. The application had been accepted and a card issued to his former wife, but not to him. After they separated, his former wife continued to use the card and made all repayments until she ran into financial difficulties. She was eventually declared bankrupt. The debt was then listed as a default against both of them. David did not find out about the debt until more than a year after the bankruptcy.

David understood the legal position and was prepared to repay the debt. However, he was upset it had not been brought to his attention earlier so that he could have made repayment arrangements and avoided a default listing. He was the only person with his surname in the area, he had always lived there, and he was easily traceable by either the bank or a collection agency. David was told by his bank’s complaints officer that a bank needed to contact only one joint account holder.


The bank agreed to:

  • recall the debt from the collection agency
  • remove the default listing
  • write off the collection charges
  • reduce the debt by 12 per cent.

David agreed to repay the rest of the debt by instalments.

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