Will I Be Nailed At The Border If I Return To The US?
I've not worked or made a payment on my debts for 4 years. With interest and late fees I owe at least $300,000 all of which is unsecured credit card debt. I don't know the exact amount because the card companies do not know where I am and I've not received statements from them for years. I am living abroad with friends who have supported me since I've been unemployed. Until 9 years ago my credit was perfect. I never missed a payment. My debts were often high - sometimes over $100,000 - but at other times I would be entirely free of liabilities. To save finance charges I would pay off certain cards in full by writing a cash advance check on another CC. Next month I would pay off the second card with an advance from the first. I found that by doing this - despite what the card companies stated in their terms and conditions - finance charges would not be assessed when the account was paid off in full and no other charges were incurred in the month. This did not work for all CC's. Let me give an example using 2 credit cards, both with lines of $5,000 and both with monthly statement cut-off dates of the 30th. The starting debt on card 1 is $4,700. Nothing is owed on card 2. On the 25th of the month I would mail a cash advance check drawn on card 2 and pay the $4,700 owed on card 1. About the 5th of the next month I would receive statements from both card companies. Card 1 would show a zero balance. Card 2 would show $4,700 due plus a small finance charge covering the period from when the advance check was paid until the cut-off date - from roughly the 28th to the 30th. Sometimes a cash advance fee of $10 or $25 would appear. So I had use of $4,700 for a full month and paid 2 days interest plus a $10 fee. Cheap loans if you care to do the arithmetic. This did not work with some cards because the company would apply charges to the date paid in the month even when the old balance is paid off in full and no other charges were on the statement. They would send a statement showing only the finance charge due. Although this "pay-off in full and you pay no finance charge" system did not apply to all it seemed to apply to most of the cards I had - something at variance with the card's terms and conditions. I state all this because I am concerned the card companies may try and arrest me for fraud or something else. So my first question is will I be nailed at the border when I return to the USA? Something else that I did was to get cash advances to make minimum monthly payments on other credit card and to have cash to live on. Question two: Is this a problem for me? More information: I have tried diligently to find work - any work, anywhere, any level, any rate of pay. I have sent out thousands of resumes and I am certain I will eventually find a job. I am age 62. For 4 years I have owned no assets except an old laptop which I use for the Internet. I surf 7 days a week for work. It is in my nature to reach a settlement with the people I owe but until I have a job and money coming in I cannot approach them and doing so now would be a distraction from job hunting. I lived and worked abroad for much of my life but I am applying for jobs everywhere including the USA.
I am not an immigration lawyer, but I haven't seen people arrested at the border because of judgments against them...and it doesn't appear that there were any judgments against you, since the cc companies couldn't find you. It sounds as if you would be an ideal candidate at this point for a Chapter 7. I doubt that any of the matters you raise would be a problem, assuming the cash advances and charges were over a year ago. I have written a Bankruptcy FAQ which should answer many of your questions about what is involved--it may be found at http://users.erols.com/lawyer/FAQ/br_faq.htm.
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