Beware of Social Media
As lawyers, we have a love/hate relationship with social media. Sure, many of us use social media in our own lives as well as to advertise and inform our current and potential clients. Social Media and Bankruptcy can occasionally cause problems for our clients.
We post pictures of vacations, shopping trips, the things we’re proud of and even how we look. For most of us, this is benign. We don’t have anything to hide, or so we think.
We routinely tell people who are planning on going through a divorce to avoid social media. It helps keep nerves from getting frayed and also helps us not say or do anything that could be misconstrued by our soon to be exes.
Just as you do in a divorce, you should also limit your activity on social media when you file bankruptcy. You may be thinking, “why does it matter what I post” and the truth is, it probably doesn’t…but creditors are getting desperate, and desperate people do desperate things.
I will use an example here of a very high profile individual who filed for bankruptcy in the not so distant past, Curtis James Jackson III. You might know him better as 50 Cent.
A Big Blunder
In 2015, Mr. Jackson filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Chapter 11 is a type of bankruptcy used for the wealthy and for corporations. Everything seemed to be going well until right in the middle of it all, he posted several photos on a popular social media site. One photo was of a stack of money in his freezer, another had stacks of bills arranged to spell the word “Broke,” and a third one was of him surrounded by a significant amount of cash on a bed. Mr. Jackson said the bills were props but he had stepped in it nonetheless.
Mr. Jackson claimed that the photos were there for him to maintain a certain image that he needed in order to continue to earn money in his chosen field. The problem was, it looked to creditors, especially those who weren’t going to get much, that he was trying to hide assets or “live large.” Because of these photos, the judge handling his case called Mr. Jackson to court to testify and to re-evaluate his assets.
In the end, Mr. Jackson was able to repay his debts under Chapter 11 and emerge debt free and fully reorganized. However, he could have faced a much worse fate if he’d been found to be hiding assets and his little stunt likely caused a great deal more expense than was otherwise necessary in additional attorney fees.
Avoid Problems All Together
Your creditors likely don’t know you personally. They don’t know that picture you posted at the beach was for a work trip and that time you checked in at the airport on social media was so you could fly to see a sick relative. They don’t realize that the picture of you in the shiny new car was actually a rental you had while your old car was being repaired.
In other words, just remember, be careful what you put out there. You never know who is watching and how they’ll take what you’re doing. To you it was benign and potentially even necessary but to them, it could look like you were trying to hide something…or worse.
If you have questions about a bankruptcy, don’t hesitate to call us. We’ve been doing this a while and we’ve seen it all. Including creditors using social media to hound clients.