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Can you include your Christmas shopping in bankruptcy?

The holiday season can be as stressful as it is magical. This reality can become even more difficult when you know that your debt load has become more than you can handle yet you still have holiday gifts to buy. Your son wants a new PlayStation and your teenage daughter insists that her social life will end if she doesn’t get that new camera specially designed for selfies.

If you still have credit available on your cards or have a good chance of getting new credit, then should you simply max everything out and give your family a terrific holiday before filing for Chapter 7 in the New Year?

The answer is simple: no.

Beware of bankruptcy fraud

When you take on more debt knowing that you will never be able to repay it, a New York bankruptcy court could accuse you of committing fraud. It’s true: bankruptcy fraud is not limited to hiding assets or misrepresenting your income. The actions that you take prior to filing for Chapter 7 can result in bankruptcy fraud accusations that will make your situation even worse.

Here are some common examples of fraud committed prior to filing.

  • You deliberately write a bad check to buy holiday presents and file for bankruptcy once January rolls around.
  • You max out a credit card to purchase gifts with the intention of including the card in your future bankruptcy.
  • You apply for, and get, a new credit card in November or December and max it out, knowing that you were going to include it in your January bankruptcy filing.

Any time you file for Chapter 7, your bankruptcy trustee will examine your financial transactions closely, especially those in the weeks leading up to the filing. If you took out a large cash advance or bought a lot of luxury or big-ticket items not necessary for day-to-day living, then it can potentially result in a denied bankruptcy petition and even fraud charges, especially if these transactions took place within 90 days prior to filing your petition.

If there is a reason to believe that you committed fraud based on the timing and nature of your purchases (e.g., you used the cards but had no financial resources to pay the bills), then the trustee will support the creditor as it initiates a fraud claim against you.

Speak with a New York bankruptcy attorney

The busy holiday months can make your financial struggles feel worse, but to get the fresh start that you need and deserve, you need to be honest with your creditors, your future bankruptcy trustee, and yourself. Making an appointment with a New York bankruptcy attorney will help you make the right choice and get your finances back on track.

If you have any questions regarding personal bankruptcies, then be sure to contact Jayson Lutzky. He is an attorney with an office in the Bronx, New York. He offers free in-person initial consultations and convenient Saturday appointments. Call 718-329-9500 or visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more.

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