Catherine's bank wouldn't release her from a debt, which her husband had taken out using her identity. So she got in touch to see if we could help resolve it.

What happened

Catherine was unhappy that her bank held her responsible for a £16,000 loan in her name. She told us that her ex-husband fraudulently took out the loan in order to pay off his own debt. When she complained, the bank refused to write off the debt, so she brought her complaint to us. 

In their response, the bank said the applicant had passed a telephone security check to verify it was Catherine, though they no longer had a recording of this call. They said the loan funds were credited to a joint account held by her and her ex-husband, and the only card for this account was in her name. They pointed out that loan repayments were being made, and Catherine had previously called to change the direct debit details and hadn't disputed the loans then. 

Catherine told us her ex-husband was threatening and controlled the household finances, giving her the card for the household shopping only. She said he forged her signature and the income and employment details on the loan were his. She maintained she did not speak on the phone to her bank about the application. She said she spoke to them later to change the direct debit because she feared missing a repayment would hurt her credit score, and she hadn't realised she could challenge the loan until later. 

What we said

Our investigator saw that though the reason for the loan was recorded as 'home improvements', the funds were used immediately to pay off a loan that was only in the ex-husband's name. They also noticed that the signature on the loan application appeared different to those on Catherine's passport and driving licence. 

While some of the application details were correct, our investigator thought these would have been known to her ex-husband. Only one income was being paid into the account, which was consistent with Catherine's account that he was the only earner. 

Our investigator didn't think Catherine benefited from the loan in her ex-husband's name. And her ex-husband could have co-opted someone to impersonate her on the phone. 

Catherine said she had a lot to consider in the wake of splitting from her husband, which could reasonably account for her delay in challenging the loan. So we upheld Catherine's complaint, and told the bank to free her from the loan and return repayments she'd made.