Your Guide to Money Etiquette
Q: Can I check up on my spouse’s credit-card and bank-account balances?
A: Well, that depends. Do you suspect your spouse of acting in a fiscally irresponsible manner and running up massive debts? Or, worse, committing fraud or some other misconduct? If so, says Anita L. Allen, a professor of ethics and law at the University of Pennsylvania, then it’s acceptable to pry. If he maxes out a credit card on a joint account, for example, you’re as legally responsible as he is for paying off the debt. But if you’re just curious about his spending, you must ask his permission before you peek at his accounts. Hopefully, he’ll be open to this. And if he balks? Don’t think that you can just help yourself to his online statements, even if you know his log-in information. “Ethically, you have the right to know, but using his password to access the information without his consent is a form of identity theft,” says Allen.