Did you know that a creditor can use your posts on social media profiles against you, even if they are set to private? If you file for bankruptcy, be aware that what you post can and will be used against you.
Honesty is mandatory
If you are a very public person or you enjoy using social media, it may be difficult to refrain from using it while filing for bankruptcy. Connecting with others on social media can give you emotional comfort, advice and reassurance. However, it can also be used to undermine your bankruptcy petition.
When you file for bankruptcy, you must be truthful when reporting all assets and debts. Creditors will use all the tools at their disposal to find evidence of dishonesty.
If a creditor finds out through an online post (including pictures) that you withheld an asset or if you failed to report you spent large sums on a lavish vacation shortly before you filed for bankruptcy, it can jeopardize your case. They may refuse to discharge some debts, throw out your petition entirely, charge you with punitive damages or even charge you with perjury.
Steps you can take
A golden rule to stay safe on the internet is to assume that anyone can see anything you ever post. Creditors and future employers could easily look through your social media platforms to discover information you may have thought hidden.
If you are concerned that your online presence may hinder your case, consider tightening up your profiles at the discretion of a legal professional. This can include:
- Limit what you post and how often.
- Refrain from “tagging” yourself in pictures.
- Refrain from “checking in” at locations that might be considered luxurious.
- Ask others not to take your picture or tag you.
- Take down information at the recommendation of a legal professional.
These are not to encourage you to be dishonest in your petition, but to exercise your right to remain silent on the internet. If it appears that you have something to hide by suspending or deleting an account, a creditor may be suspicious and accuse you of withholding assets. Always accurately disclose your income and assets to legal professionals handling your case.
Just like Facebook, bankruptcy is a matter of public record, but if used responsibly they can both be a platform for growth and personal improvement.