Q. My divorce lawyer wants to communicate with me via email. I understand why that is most convenient, but I am concerned about privacy. My husband has degrees in computer science. I’m a computer novice – barely literate. He no longer lives in the house, but I’m afraid to touch the computer. What if he installed spyware? What if he can read my emails?
He knows how to do this stuff – he used to joke with his buddies about what he could do for them if they got divorced.
I’m also worried he’ll get into my bank accounts and credit cards.
Is there a way to make my online banking and email communications safe?
A. There are options. The road you take depends, in part, on your cash flow. If you like your present computer, you need to find an IT person. Ask that your computer be password protected and protected from both viruses and hacking. Be sure the new password is something your husband won’t be able to guess. To be safe, change that password every month.
Or buy a new computer and have the IT folks set it up with solid virus protection programs. Open a new email account with a name or numbers you’ve never before used. Instruct your divorce lawyer to NOT copy or blind copy you on any communications with the other side. Instead, after he sends an email to the other side, only then will he forward a copy to you. This avoids someone hitting “reply all” which would then accidentally email the other lawyer information that was meant only for your lawyer.
If your online banking and credit cards are only in your name, you need to close your accounts and open new ones – maybe in a new bank and charge company. Also, change all of your user names and passwords. If any accounts or credit cards are in joint names, then get a new credit card and open a new bank account only in your name. If you’re concerned about his looking at your mail, have it sent to a post office box that you open in a nearby city or town.
But don’t worry about your husband finding out what you’re spending money on. That’s because your documents – and his documents – must be produced to the other side. And the total expenses are listed on the court-required financial statement. So none of your spending will be a secret until the divorce is over.
Of course, since he’ll see what you’re buying and where, why not buy some sexy lingerie which you could – not that you are planning to – use on a romantic getaway. If nothing else, his attempt to figure out why you needed that lingerie just might fan more flames than you intend.