Filing for bankruptcy is not an easy decision to make. It’s a stressful and emotional time because you want to do what’s best for you and your family, but you also want to keep as much of your property as possible. You worry about many things, and one of them may be whether someone may find out you’re declaring bankruptcy. In today’s blog from Groce & DeArmon, we answer the question, “Are bankruptcies public record?”
Related Post: What to Expect Before Filing for Bankruptcy in Missouri
Bankruptcies Are Filed in Federal Court
Bankruptcies are filed in federal court. For Springfield and Southwest Missouri, that means the Southern Division of the Western District of Missouri in Springfield, or the Southwestern Division in Carthage. Filings and petitions are filed electronically. The time of your bankruptcy hearing is added to the docket, typically within 60 days of your initial filing. Once you file, anyone may call the court and verify that you’ve filed for bankruptcy protection. Our bankruptcy attorney can explain what happens after you file.
Federal courts utilize the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system for accessing electronic records of court filings. Anyone with a PACER account could see your bankruptcy filings and petitions. However, ordinary people generally don’t access this system. Attorneys, creditors, financial institutions, and interested parties can register for a PACER account and pay a fee.
Then the federal court system must approve the application. Our bankruptcy attorney has a PACER account, and we can show you what these online records look like if you have concerns. PACER protects your privacy from ordinary people trying to locate your bankruptcy record.
Because bankruptcies are public records, news organizations and media outlets can apply for a PACER account. Daily Events is one of Missouri’s oldest newspapers. Based in Springfield, it lists bankruptcies filed in federal court. Daily Events lists the date of the filing, name of the petitioner, and what chapter (7 or 13) of bankruptcy was filed. Anyone can view the paper version of Daily Events at a public library, or someone can pay for a subscription to the online version to search the newspaper’s records.
Another option is for members of the general public to visit the federal courthouse to view bankruptcy documents through the court clerk. However, the person seeking the information can’t just randomly search for records. Anyone looking for a bankruptcy filing needs a name or the date the petition was filed. The person must go through the proper security checkpoints to get into the courthouse. Phones are not allowed in the federal courthouse unless you’re there on court business and NOT a member of the general public. Our bankruptcy attorney can outline what someone needs to do to access these records in person.
What Does and Doesn’t Appear in Court Records
Court records could list any petitions, filings, disputes, or list of creditors that accompany petitions. What doesn’t appear is the petitioner’s Social Security number. Just the last four digits appear on the documents. If you have concerns about your privacy when you file for bankruptcy for any reason, our bankruptcy attorney will consult with you about the best course of action and steps we can take.
Talk to Groce & DeArmon About Bankruptcy Protection
Are your creditors calling you on an almost daily basis? Do you need debt relief? Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a solution. Contact Groce & DeArmon or call toll-free 1-800-640-3706 for more information or a free consultation about filing for bankruptcy.