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This man’s estranged wife received his stimulus check — and spent it. She won’t pay it back. What can he do?

Dear Moneyist,

I’m asking this query for my good friend. He and his spouse separated in October 2019. They are attempting to symbolize themselves to keep away from expensive lawyer bills. They should not have kids nor any property. She stored him at the hours of darkness about account numbers and log-in data. They filed collectively in 2018.

The COVID-19 stimulus cost was deposited into their joint account, one which neither of them use anymore. As he was unable to examine on-line banking, he didn’t know when this occurred. He checked the steadiness on the ATM solely to find that she has withdrawn the entire $2,400 cost, leaving him with nothing.

He has since confronted her and she or he has admitted it and informed him she had already spent it. She refuses to offer it again, and declines to even work out a cost plan. When making an attempt to report it to the IRS, the whole lot appears to come back all the way down to identification theft as being the explanation it was stolen. What does he must do to acquire the $1,200 stimulus cost she stole from him?

What do you suppose?

Concerned good friend

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Dear Concerned,

If that is the checking account the IRS has on file, that is the place the IRS will deposit your good friend’s tax refund. So if he hasn’t performed so already, he wants to vary this account. Otherwise, the identical factor will occur once more. Prevention is healthier than remedy. I hate cliches, however this one is painfully true.

Having your appropriate financial institution particulars on file will assist velocity the plow for a cost subsequent yr. If the IRS doesn’t have your bank-account data on file, it’ll probably take longer. You can submit your bank-account and deal with data by way of the IRS monitoring instrument, “Get My Payment.”

Your good friend’s dilemma just isn’t the primary certainly one of this sort I’ve acquired. One husband really refused to offer the cost to his spouse. That was a textbook case of monetary abuse. Another husband filed a joint tax return and cast his estranged spouse’s signature, and acquired her $1,200. That’s fraud.

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This, nonetheless, falls wanting that. The account is in each their names and, as per the phrases of most joint accounts, they each have entry to the account and they’re each entitled to withdraw cash from the account. The cash was his. Once it hits their joint account, it’s theirs.

This is a cautionary story for anybody opening a joint checking account. Account passwords on emails might be modified, and so can the passwords for on-line banking. Your good friend seems to painting himself as a hapless or, on the very least, passive participant on this monetary fudgery.

He just isn’t innocent. Not staying on prime of your monetary accounts, particularly these related with a former companion and the IRS and every other establishment, is a selection. The lesson right here is to be extra assertive with the best way he manages his life, so he doesn’t find yourself in a state of affairs like this once more.

He ought to inform his divorce lawyer, if he has one (if not, he ought to), and alter every other direct deposits into this account. He can even take out a court docket order to freeze this or every other joint account to forestall his spouse from withdrawing every other cash that occurs to be deposited into it.

The Moneyist: My son is staying with me, but my financially irresponsible ex-husband acquired his $500 stimulus examine. Is my ex proper to maintain it?

You can e mail The Moneyist with any monetary and moral questions associated to coronavirus at [email protected]. Want to learn extra?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand browse extra of his columns right here

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