Be Careful When Using Credit Cards to Pay Court Fines So You Don't Make Things Worse

Submitted by Rachel R on Tue, 03/19/2019 - 1:40pm

Be Careful When Using Credit Cards to Pay Court Fines So You Don't Make Things Worse

You can now pay traffic fines and fees in NC with your credit card or debit card

Image source: Chris Yarzab via Flickr Creative Commons

We wrote a few days ago about newly enacted legislation that allows the North Carolina courts to accept credit cards for court fines and fees. However, today we talk about the possible outcome of doing this and why you should think carefully before you do. If your finances are already on the brink and you can't pay your credit card bills, adding more debt to the pile is a risk. Tickets and court costs can be quite costly and can easily put you at or over your credit limit. Here's what you need to know about credit card use before a bankruptcy, no matter what you're using them to do.

How using your credit cards for court fines and fees can help you

If you don't pay a speeding ticket or other court cost in a timely manner it can cause you major problems. Unpaid tickets lead to additional fees and, left unpaid, can see a warrant issued in your name, leading to progressively bad legal problems. If your choice is leaving your ticket unpaid or charging it to a credit card, whipping out the plastic makes sense. But we never recommend to any of our clients that they charge items they can't afford to pay for – including court items. But if you end up with a warrant, arrest or in contempt of court, it can put your job in peril and that will only make your finances worse.

How using your credit cards for court fines and fees can hurt you

If you are considering filing bankruptcy and deliberately use your credit cards when you know you will never be able to pay them, that's considered fraud and can land you in hot water with your bankruptcy Trustee. Running up your credit cards and not being able to pay them is not, in and of itself, fraud. It only becomes fraud if you did it with the express intent of never paying the debt you were intentionally accruing. In particular, the red flags that raise Trustee ire are cash advances of more than $925 within 70 days prior to filing and $650 or more on luxury goods for three months prior.

If you must use your credit card to pay your tickets, do it this way

If you absolutely have no other option but to use your plastic to take care of your court fines and fees, it's best to take advantage of North Carolina's new credit card at the courts policy. Do not use your cards to take a cash advance to pay your ticket or court fees. Not only will this result in a higher interest rate from your card issuer but if you file bankruptcy within 70 days of taking a significant cash advance, you'll be red flagging yourself as a potential fraudster. Instead, swipe your card with the clerk and sign on the dotted line to keep yourself out of trouble.

If you're struggling to keep up with bills and wonder if bankruptcy can help you, contact the law offices of John T Orcutt for a free consultation today. We'll look at your debt, income and other factors and tell you the best option for you. We will also look at your recent credit card usage and advise you on what the best approach is to keep you out of hot water with the court. Call now and come see us at one of our convenient North Carolina locations.

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