Updated: Sep 30
Filing bankruptcy is a very personal decision. It is a difficult choice and often times it can feel embarrassing. Clients commonly ask who can find out if they file bankruptcy?
Public Viewing of Bankruptcy Records
A bankruptcy is public record and the 341 Meeting of Creditors that you attend is a public meeting, though it is usually only attended by creditors, attorneys, and the other debtors who are scheduled for their meeting that day. The good news is this information is not easy to find. Will your creditors be announcing to the world that you filed bankruptcy? Not likely.
So what does "public" mean then? The bankruptcy information gets entered into a database called PACER. This is where attorneys and creditors can pay to view documents from a debtor's case. Anyone can open a PACER account and see who has filed, but they would have to know about it and search it. It is also a possibility that it can be published in the "Public Notices" section in the newspaper. You can check your local paper to see if there is a section like this. Something else to keep in mind is the court will also mail you documents as this can be seen by others. Your information can also be searched by background search sites. Most of these are paid and, again, people would need to be actively searching for this information to find it.
What Does This Mean for Me?
The bottom line is it takes some real effort and desire to know if someone is filing bankruptcy. Most of all, knowledge is power. If you arm yourself with knowledge, you become more comfortable with your choice. You file bankruptcy to get a fresh start and no two bankruptcies are the same so the reasons for filing are all different. You are gaining control of your financial future and this path is not taken lightly.