debt

Commit bankruptcy fraud to pay back Mom?

Justin HarelikDear Bankruptcy Adviser,
Can I file bankruptcy even though I only get $600 a month from Social Security? I owe my mom $15,000. Can I use my credit card to pay her and then file on that card?
-- Geraldine

Handing money © Fejas/Shutterstock.com

Dear Geraldine,
First and foremost, no, you cannot use your credit card to pay back your mother and then file bankruptcy for that card. That is fraud and would be considered illegal.

Bankruptcy is for people that intend to pay their bills, but cannot. The vast majority of time, the individual filing bankruptcy has gone through a period of unemployment, a divorce or dealt with medical issues.

Bankruptcy is not a way to transfer debt that you owe family to anonymous, big credit card companies. The bankruptcy system needs to maintain its integrity.

Creditors will review your account after receiving the bankruptcy notification and will challenge your request for bankruptcy relief. Don't compound your already difficult financial situation with bankruptcy fraud.

Now onto your other question: Do you need to file when making only $600 per month?

Your income is Social Security only. That means a creditor can sue you and get a judgment, but cannot garnish your Social Security income or levy a bank account when only Social Security income is in that account. You would not have to pay your creditors as long as Social Security is your only source of income.

That means you are judgment-proof. That does not mean a creditor won't sue you, but a creditor can't do much to enforce that judgment if you have no other assets other than your Social Security.

While you may be judgment-proof, you aren't harassment proof. Collection companies can still call you. You might have to deal with some very unprofessional individuals who say inappropriate and possibly illegal comments.

Try looking down other avenues to pay your mom back. If you don't have any discretionary funds even after putting together a budget, maybe you can work the money off by helping her out.

Good luck.

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