Types of Bankruptcy Fraud

By Elizabeth Stock

Bankruptcy fraud is engaging in any act that misleads the bankruptcy court. There are several types of bankruptcy fraud including concealing assets and filing for bankruptcy multiple times in different states. If you commit bankruptcy fraud, the consequences can be severe including the dismissal of your bankruptcy case, fines and possible jail time. Learning about the possible types of bankruptcy fraud can help you avoid making costly mistakes.

Bankruptcy fraud is engaging in any act that misleads the bankruptcy court. There are several types of bankruptcy fraud including concealing assets and filing for bankruptcy multiple times in different states. If you commit bankruptcy fraud, the consequences can be severe including the dismissal of your bankruptcy case, fines and possible jail time. Learning about the possible types of bankruptcy fraud can help you avoid making costly mistakes.

Concealing Assets

Hiding assets is the most common form of bankruptcy fraud. An asset is anything that you own or have possession of that has any value. An asset can include a home, car or piece of personal property. Concealing an asset prevents your creditors from receiving as much as they may be entitled to in your bankruptcy case. Concealment of assets can include transferring property to friends or family. However, you may not intend to conceal your assets, you may simply forget to list an asset on the appropriate bankruptcy schedule. If you notice that you have made a mistake, contact the bankruptcy trustee immediately to report the mistake. Most likely, you will be able to amend your bankruptcy paperwork to include the omitted asset.

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False or Incomplete Form

You also can commit bankruptcy fraud if you file incomplete paperwork to the bankruptcy court, or if you provide untruthful information on the forms. When you file for bankruptcy, you must complete a substantial amount of paperwork including a list of your assets, debts and information about your current financial status. Providing false information may mislead your bankruptcy trustee and cause you to become eligible for bankruptcy when you otherwise would not be. You can avoid such an occurrence by carefully reviewing your paperwork to confirm that no forms are missing and that the forms provided are filled out completely at least twice before submitting your bankruptcy packet to the court.

Bribery

Bribing the bankruptcy trustee is a form of bankruptcy fraud. The bribery may include offers of money or favors in return for the bankruptcy trustee to approve the bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy trustee is the court-appointed individual who handles your bankruptcy case. You will be in contact with the trustee throughout your bankruptcy case, and in most cases, you are unlikely to meet with another court-affiliated individual, especially if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Therefore, maintaining a professional relationship with the bankruptcy trustee is essential to avoid any perception of bankruptcy fraud. For example, offering to take the bankruptcy trustee out to lunch following your meeting should be avoided.

Filing Multiple Times

You commit bankruptcy fraud if you file for bankruptcy multiple times in different states. Multiple filing includes filing using the same or different information and can involve the concealment of assets. However, you can file for bankruptcy again in the same state after you wait the appropriate time. For example, to file for Chapter 7 again you must wait eight years from your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge.

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How to Amend Chapter 7 After it Has Been Filed

References

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Legitimate Reasons for Bankruptcy

If you're experiencing financial hardship and considering filing for bankruptcy, you'll need to have a legitimate reason. Individuals usually file under Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings -- sometimes called "debt wipeout," or under Chapter 13, which offers a repayment plan with creditors while the debtor is under court protection. Before you file for bankruptcy, consider your financial circumstances, your debt level and your reasons for doing so -- bankruptcy will impact your finances beyond your immediate debts.

Facts About Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a big decision that will affect your credit score and ability to qualify for personal loans and credit cards in the future. Therefore, getting the facts is essential. For example, you must first determine whether you are eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you do file, you will have to appear at a meeting of creditors before you will receive a bankruptcy discharge.

About Bankruptcy Qualifying Rules

Congress made changes to the Bankruptcy Code in 2005 to address concerns regarding perceived abuse of the bankruptcy process by individuals. Referred to as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, these changes have made it more difficult to qualify for personal bankruptcy. Now, you must satisfy certain criteria and complete credit counseling before you are eligible to file for personal bankruptcy.

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