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Kevin O'Flaherty

Identity theft is a serious crime that can wreak havoc on your personal and financial life. You might find yourself facing overwhelming debts and financial hardships if you have fallen victim to identity theft. In these situations, filing for bankruptcy may seem like a viable solution. Deciding whether to file bankruptcy due to identity theft is a complex decision that requires careful consideration of all factors in the situation. In this article, our bankruptcy attorneys will guide you through the pros and cons of filing for bankruptcy in the aftermath of identity theft to help you make an informed decision for your financial future.

Understanding Identity Theft

Identity theft happens when someone wrongfully secures and uses your personal information, such as your Social Security number, credit card details, or bank account information, without your consent. This can result in fraudulent charges, unauthorized loans, and damaged credit scores. Resolving the financial aftermath of identity theft can be a strenuous and time-consuming process. Often leaving victims burdened with overwhelming debts.

The Bankruptcy Option

When an individual is unable to pay their debts, bankruptcy is a legal process that allows them to discharge or restructure their debts. While bankruptcy can be a great option to provide relief to those who are deep in debt, it is still essential to carefully evalute whether it is the right choice specifically for identity related debts. If you are unable to prove that the debt causing charges are fraudulent, bankruptcy may be an option to consider depending on some of the following factors. For the most up to date information on bankruptcy read our article, Illinois Bankruptcy Laws New For 2023.

What is the Extent of Debts?

Assess the scope of the debts that came from identity theft. If the amount is substantial and unmanageable, bankruptcy might be a viable option to eliminate or restructure those debts. However, if the debts are minimal and can be resolved through other means, bankruptcy may not be necessary.

What Are Other Available Remedies?

Before considering bankruptcy, explore alternative methods to address the identity theft-related debts. Contact your financial institutions, credit card companies, and lenders to report the fraud and dispute the charges. They may be able to assist you in resolving the issue and potentially relieve you of responsibility for the fraudulent debts.

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What is the Impact on Your Credit Score?

Filing for bankruptcy has a significant impact on your credit score. It remains on your credit report for several years, making it difficult to obtain credit or loans in the future. However, if your credit score is already severely damaged due to the identity theft, bankruptcy might not have a substantial additional negative impact.

What are Any Legal Consequences?

Consult with a legal professional to understand the legal ramifications of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws differ depending on your jurisdiction, and it is crucial to be aware of the potential consequences before making a decision. A bankruptcy attorney can guide you through the process and help determine whether it is the right choice for your situation.

What are The Benefits of Filing Bankruptcy?

• Discharging Debts: Bankruptcy provides the opportunity to discharge certain debts entirely. If you are overwhelmed with fraudulent debts resulting from identity theft, bankruptcy can offer relief by eliminating those debts, giving you a fresh financial start.

• Automatic Stay: When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is imposed, halting all collection activities, including harassing phone calls from creditors and collection agencies. This gives you a reprieve from the stress associated with dealing with aggressive debt collectors.

• Repayment Plans: If your identity theft-related debts are substantial but you have a steady income, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow you to create a manageable repayment plan. This option can help you regain control of your finances while honoring your obligations.

Drawbacks of Filing Bankruptcy

Credit Score Impact: As mentioned earlier, filing for bankruptcy has a significant negative impact on your credit score. This can make it challenging to secure new credit, rent an apartment, or obtain favorable interest rates on loans in the future.

Financial Stigma: Bankruptcy carries a certain social stigma and may affect your professional reputation. Some employers and landlords may view bankruptcy unfavorably, potentially hindering future employment prospects or housing opportunities.

Legal Costs: Filing for bankruptcy involves legal and court fees, which can add to your financial burden. It is essential to consider these costs when evaluating the overall feasibility of bankruptcy.

Alternative Solutions

If bankruptcy seems like too extreme a step or if you wish to explore other avenues before pursuing that option, here are a few alternatives to consider:

Credit Counseling: Enlist the help of a reputable credit counseling agency that can assist you in creating a budget, negotiating with creditors, and establishing a debt management plan to repay your debts over time.

Fraud Alerts and Monitoring: Place fraud alerts on your credit reports and regularly monitor them for any suspicious activity. This can help you detect and resolve any future instances of identity theft promptly.

Legal Assistance: Consult with an attorney specializing in identity theft to understand your rights, explore legal remedies, and determine the best course of action to address your specific situation.


Deciding whether to file bankruptcy due to identity theft is a deeply personal decision that depends on various factors, such as the extent of the debts, credit score impact, legal consequences, and available alternatives. It is crucial to seek professional advice from bankruptcy attorneys and credit counselors who can guide you through the process and help you make an informed decision. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, exploring alternative solutions, and considering the long-term implications, you can choose the best course of action to regain control of your financial future after falling victim to identity theft.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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