Debtors who declare bankruptcy will either face liquidation of their assets or a strict, court supervised debt repayment plan. What many people do not realize is how social media posts can affect bankruptcy.
When you post details of your life on social media websites, this information is freely available to anyone who wants to read it, including debt collectors. Debt collectors have already found people who moved or changed phone numbers by identifying them on social media and looking up their new contact information. If you discuss where you are going…
You Incriminate Yourself
Let’s suppose that you get a second job and announce it to your friends on Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites. If you haven’t amended your debt repayment plan to account for your increased income, you could be guilty of bankruptcy fraud. If you post pictures of “me on my jet ski” or “us at my lake house”, your creditors can rightfully ask if you are shielding these assets from liquidation.
If you are declaring bankruptcy due to financial hardship, creditors are increasingly looking through social media posts to determine if someone has been spending frivolously. Creditors will challenge a debtor who posted recent vacation photos or tweeted about all the great things they bought recently. If you brag about a raise, your creditors may file a legal action demanding a larger monthly payment. If you file for bankruptcy due to a job loss, talking about all the great job offers you have or the new business you want to start will cause creditors to demand a repayment plan instead of liquidation.
Posting information about your wedding may lead creditors to find money from your new spouse, if you live in a community property state. Discussions about new babies and married family members won’t cause a problem unless you’ve spent $500 on a new crib for the baby or gave a wedding present worth thousands while paying the minimum allowed to your creditors.
Recent photos of yourself wearing fancy jewelry gives collectors the ability to demand that those items be sold for repayment of your debts. If you are seen in photos eating out or taking about traveling to reunions, your creditors can rightfully ask how you afforded to do so. Talking about gaming or expensive gadgets you own can lead the court to demand the sale of those objects or cancelling the subscriptions to generate cash to pay your bills.
You should not gripe about your bankruptcy case on social media platforms. The first reason is that it reveals information that future potential employers will be able to find out. The second reason is that the complaints about the legal preceding may cause current professional peers, coworkers and supervisors to question your discretion.
While a bankruptcy filing does go onto your credit report and into legal record, it causes others to wonder what other sensitive information you reveal through social media. If you work in law, medicine or the defense industry, spilling the details of a private, potentially embarrassing matter causes others to pause before trusting you with other sensitive information.
Rick Abelmann is a Hawaii bankruptcy attorney in Honolulu, helping those who need a fresh financial start.