Technically, bankruptcies are public record.
The good news is that unlike collection lawsuits and divorces, most local newspapers don’t report bankruptcy filings. Nowadays, bankruptcies are only printed in specialized publications like the Court & Commercial Record. These publications are read by bankruptcy judges, attorneys, creditors. Not the general public.
How can someone discover that I filed bankruptcy?
It’s not easy for the general public to discover that you filed bankruptcy. The federal government maintains a public records system called PACER. This system contains filings for federal and bankruptcy cases across the United States. To access this system, you must create an account and pay a per-page fee for each document obtained. Because of this, it is unusual for someone other than a bankruptcy attorney or creditor to maintain a PACER account.
Bankruptcy will appear in your credit reports.
A chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on a credit report for 10 years, while a chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on a credit report for seven years. If you apply for an apartment, credit, or even some jobs, a credit check will reveal the bankruptcy. However, these credit checks require your consent. So, to a certain degree, you control the release of this information. Also, many rental and credit applications contain questions regarding whether you have ever filed bankruptcy. This is another way in which your bankruptcy may become public knowledge.
Unless you tell someone, it is unlikely they will ever discover you filed bankruptcy.
When you file bankruptcy, you must list everyone you owe money to. Obviously, if you owe a family member or friend money, they will receive notice of your filing. But if not, then only your creditors will be aware of the bankruptcy. You can rest easy knowing that unless you tell someone that you’ve filed bankruptcy, the general public will likely never find out.
So why let fear stop you?
So a friend, family member, or colleague discovers that you filed bankruptcy. What’s the worst that could happen? Bankruptcy doesn’t carry the stigma it once did, and the benefits outweigh any temporary discomfort. Bankruptcy offers the opportunity to become free from debt. To end living paycheck-to-paycheck. To save your home or car. To recover your driver’s license after being unable to pay a judgment. To be able to start saving for the next vacation or your retirement. The question becomes, are you really willing to let fear stop you from being able to live the life you want?
If you are interested in filing bankruptcy, but have concerns, please contact me. The consultation is free, confidential, and can be life-changing. In as little as four months, you could be on the path to recovery and moving towards the life you want to live!