Divorce Means Dividing up Your Online Accounts, Too

“Part of getting over someone is being able to listen to your jams in the shower and maybe cry or something like that,” a young woman told NPR. Yet after a breakup, she and her ex didn’t decide who got to keep their shared Spotify account. That left them both trying to use it, struggling back and forth for control over what was playing.

Consider how you would feel if someone tried to take over your music catalog. A Spotify account can include years of playlists and music recommendations that feel extremely personal. If the account is shared, you risk losing it all in a breakup. The same goes for Netflix and Hulu.

If you’re divorcing, you may have already thought about changing the password to your online banking platform. As part of the divorce, you’ll need to divide your assets and debt, and that includes access to 401(k)s, IRAs and brokerage accounts, your online mortgage account, online auto loan accounts, shared store credit cards — anything with a debt obligation.

You should take care to close down or change the passwords on any shared account with a saved credit card — and that includes your pizza app. If you don’t, an angry ex could charge up the account and leave you to deal with the mess.

But whether your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media accounts have saved credit cards or not, you may want to think about dividing them.

Some online accounts can open you up to stalking or impersonation

Many apps track you — your habits, what you’re doing right now, and your location. That makes them an easy resource for someone with boundary issues. If you have a nosy ex, leaving them with the password means they can keep track of your activities.

If you leave the password to your Facebook or Instagram account unchanged, you may be leaving the account open to your ex’s perusal. That could expose your private information but also information about other people who communicate with you.

It also makes it far too easy to impersonate you.

Finally, there could be legal risks involved in continuing to use a shared account after your divorce. If your ex withdraws their consent for you to share the account but doesn’t change the password and you log in anyway, you could be charged with a crime. The terms of service for these accounts almost always specifically prohibit logging on with someone else’s password. Furthermore, the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act can be read to prohibit doing so.

Be aware that the timing of closing these accounts matters. Before you begin changing passwords, talk to your divorce attorney.

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