Are Bankruptcy Filings Public Record?

Most people choose to keep their finances private, especially if they’re struggling to keep up with bills. While bankruptcy is very common, many people still feel ashamed or worry they didn’t do everything they could to avoid bankruptcy. I do my best to help my clients avoid bankruptcy if that’s the best option for them, and if they do need to file bankruptcy, I discretely help people get their case resolved.

Not Public Knowledge

There really is no need to worry about people in your life finding out about your bankruptcy unless you decide to tell them yourself. There is a difference between “public record” and “public knowledge”. By making bankruptcies public record, people who need to know about your credit (attorneys and creditors, for example) can get the information they need. What this does not mean is that your private information will be broadcast for all to see.

For someone to find out about your bankruptcy, they would need to pay a fee and register on the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) website. Although anyone can register, the website is usually only accessed by creditors and attorneys to use in their work.

There is a very slight chance that an acquaintance or neighbor could find out about your bankruptcy, but this is not very likely. You may run into someone you know at your 341 Meeting, which is held at a federal building. Usually the only people who attend these meetings are people who are filing bankruptcy, attorneys, and the trustee. Chances are, if you see someone you know, they are either filing bankruptcy or supporting someone who is. Some small towns report bankruptcy filings on television or in the newspaper, but it is definitely not front-page news. Additionally, you will receive notices in the mail, which will be in envelopes marked “Bankruptcy Court.”  There is a chance your mail carrier may notice, but they are usually too busy doing their job.

Need to Know Basis

Once your bankruptcy is wrapped up, you can begin to rebuild your credit. Part of improving your credit score is applying for a new credit card or loan, and this requires a credit check. The credit company will see your bankruptcy on your record, but they won’t know how much or what type of debt you had. Some insurance companies and employers may also run a credit report, but they are using this information in a professional manner. After running credit checks every day, seeing a bankruptcy will not be surprising to them.

Really, unless you choose to tell someone about your bankruptcy, they won’t have the opportunity to find out about it. While it may be wise to keep your personal business private, it can also be a relief to share your struggles with someone you trust so that they can encourage and support you. I’m here to support you as you prepare and complete your bankruptcy, so if you have questions or are feeling unsure, don’t hesitate to call me. I’ll help you make some important financial decisions so that you can get back on your feet.