One of the many reasons that people choose not to file for bankruptcy, even if it would benefit them greatly, is the perceived stigma associated with it. This is truly unfortunate as it prevents individuals from seeking out the best option to address financial troubles. You may be worried that if you decide to declare bankruptcy, your records will be visible to all. Although you would probably prefer to keep your bankruptcy filing private, the reality is that the records are indeed public.
When your case is officially filed in bankruptcy court, it will become a public record. The bankruptcy court website sometimes includes a section that lists some basic information about cases, including the case name and number, upcoming court dates, motions that have been filed, contact information for the bankruptcy trustee and even the names of creditors that are involved in the case.
The upside is that a certain amount of effort is required to go to the bankruptcy court website or even view all of the documents related to your bankruptcy. In fact, much of the information is only available after taking the time to register in order to obtain access to the bankruptcy court’s database and a fee may be charged for accessing and printing documents. The fact that registration is required and fees are involved would eliminate all but those who have a particular interest, which probably does not apply to your neighbor or most other acquaintances.
Sometimes area newspapers publish local bankruptcy filings. If you live in central Iowa, the Des Moines Register prominently displays local bankruptcy filings including names, debts and assets – making the information readily accessible to subscribers. In Peoria, however, the Journal Star newspaper announced its decision in 2010 to stop routinely publishing local bankruptcies, concluding that ‘in today’s economy, publicizing personal bankruptcies no longer holds the news value it may have a few years ago’. Instead, the newspaper reports only on personal bankruptcies involving prominent Peoria-area residents and continues to report significant bankruptcy filings of local businesses and corporations.
So in general, the reality is that although all of your creditors will learn of your bankruptcy filing, it is not very likely that other people will. Although a bankruptcy case is a public matter, most people do not go out looking to see who has filed for bankruptcy and, even if people do find out about your bankruptcy, you may be surprised by how understanding people are in this economy and that many now view bankruptcy as a responsible step in the right direction to getting your finances back on track.
If you are struggling with the burden of unmanageable debt, bankruptcy could provide the debt relief you have been seeking. While bankruptcy is not the right solution for every debt challenge, it has enabled millions of Americans to find a new path to a brighter financial future. Attorney Charles Covey has been helping clients find solutions to difficult debt challenges for more than 30 years.Thousands of clients have obtained debt relief with Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I encourage you to learn more about bankruptcy if you are struggling with debt.