10 Apr Who Will Know About My Bankruptcy?
The most common question I get asked is; Who will know about my bankruptcy? The bankruptcy filing is public record as well as the creditor’s hearing or 341 Meeting of Creditors that you will attend is open to the public.
Does this mean that the creditor will fly a banner over head telling everyone that you filed bankruptcy? Probably not. So what does public record mean?
When you file a bankruptcy your name is entered into a database that anyone with a PACER account can access to see your documents. Generally, only creditors or attorneys access this database because it costs $.08 per page to view but the bottom line is anyone can open an account with PACER and see who filed.
Where else may your name appear? It possible that your name will appear in your local paper under the Public Notices heading. The only way to verify whether your paper does this is to pick up your local paper and see if they publish the bankruptcy filings. If they do then your name will appear there. Will your name be on television? Again that depends on your town. If you have a local television station that announces public records and you see bankruptcy filings than yes your name will be there. This type of instance is very rare and generally only happens in very small towns.
Another way that might “expose” the fact that you filed bankruptcy is that you will receive mail from the Bankruptcy Court. For my clients they receive an envelope where in the upper left hand corner it shows: Rachel Lynn Foley – United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri. Neither I nor any other attorney has any control over these mailings. Although your mail is private your mail person will see the mail and keep in mind sometimes your mail may be delivered to the neighbor by mistake.
The Meeting of Creditors or 341 Meeting is a public forum, meaning that anyone can attend. Generally no one attends outside of the attorneys and their debtors. It is just too boring of a hearing for anyone off the street to come in and put their feet up for a spell. Again, I use the term “generally” and this does not mean that no one will attend but it is unusual at the Kansas City area meetings.
This information is not to scare or intimidate you. Remember knowledge is power and it allows you to take control of your situation. You may go through the entire process of bankruptcy and no one ever figured out that you filed. However, I want you to keep in mind that there is always a chance that someone will know because your bankruptcy filing is public record. I would have to say the most common way someone finds out that you filed bankruptcy is because they attend the 341 Meeting with a family member or friend or they themselves have also filed.
The bottom line is that when you combine the fact that bankruptcy is a public record and that information now travels at the speed of light that there is always a chance that someone will know that you filed bankruptcy.
Should you let that fear paralyze you? NO! You are looking to file bankruptcy not because it is cool, not because it is fun, not even because it appears to a current trend but rather you are doing it to take control of your financial situation.
In the long run you have to be comfortable with filing the bankruptcy and not worry about what others may or may find out about your financial situation. You are the one who is responsible for your financial life and it will be up to you take financial control. More importantly remember you are not alone facing financial hardships.
Written by Rachel Lynn Foley.