Social media is everywhere. In the past several years, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms have become a dominate force in how people spend time, share photos, and connect with others. Nowadays, you can even find the attorneys of Levitt and Slafkes, P.C. on Facebook and Twitter. These platforms are great to communicate with large audiences, and this is precisely what makes them so dangerous for people considering bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy and social media do not mix. Once you file bankruptcy, both trustees and creditors are interested in your financial situation. Your social media accounts can potentially provide for more information than trustees and creditors would receive from the normal discovery process in court. Even worse, because pictures and posts can be taken out of context, a creditor or trustee might later use those posts to question whether you completely and honestly disclosed your finances to the court.
The poster child for abstaining from social media during a bankruptcy proceeding is rapper “50 Cent.” In July of 2015, 50 Cent filled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in part because of several multimillion dollar lawsuits and judgments against him. Since that time, he has posted pictures online posing on his bed surrounded by piles of money and even spelling the word “BROKE” in stacks of hundred dollar bills. Judge Ann M. Nevins of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court told 50 Cent’s attorney that she was “concerned about allegations of nondisclosure or a lack of transparency in the case.” While 50 Cent later told the court that the bills were props, it wasn’t until after further court involvement and several hearings about his social media accounts. After the hearing, an unrepentant 50 Cent posted another picture to social media with stacks of bills in his waistband. The picture has since been deleted.
When entering bankruptcy, debtors must honestly and completely disclose their financial situation. One of the worst possible scenarios is to place your credibility in question such that a judge is left wondering as to the honesty and transparency of these disclosures. While it isn’t common to see people posing with stacks of hundred dollar bills, it has become increasingly more common to see creditors combing social media for evidence of expensive meals, exotic vacations, or undisclosed assets. Even if the assets aren’t yours and someone else picked up the check for dinner, it is best to avoid questions altogether by not posting to social media.
Because social media can delay or even derail a bankruptcy case, if you are considering bankruptcy you should also:
- Change your settings to “private” on each and every social media account you control,
- Stop updating and posting to social media accounts, and
- Hire an experienced attorney who can help advise you.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, let us help you explore all of your options. We are bankruptcy lawyers who know how to give you a fresh financial start. Contact our New Jersey law firm online by filling out the form or by calling 973-323-2953 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at Levitt & Slafkes, P.C..