Unless you are famous or do something dramatic to make a splash, it is not likely that your bankruptcy filing will make front page headlines around the world. But bankruptcy filings are not secret, either. They are public records, so anyone with sufficient motivation can learn the details about your bankruptcy filing.
Bankruptcy Filings are Public Record
Filing for bankruptcy is a little like making a will: the fact that you are thinking of taking this legal step remains completely confidential – a matter between you and your attorney – until the documents are filed with the appropriate court. Documents filed in the bankruptcy court, like almost all court filings, are public records, and bankruptcy filings are all available for viewing online with the court's electronic filing system.
Read More: How to Research Bankruptcy Filings
Accessing Bankruptcy Records
Both the fact of a bankruptcy filing and the contents of documents filed in bankruptcy cases are matters of public record. Any member of the public can visit the clerk of the bankruptcy court during business hours and ask to see a person's bankruptcy file. It is also possible to access bankruptcy filings over the Internet by signing up for a PACER account from the federal court system. Certain information in bankruptcy filings, such as the debtor's Social Security number, are not available online to protect security and privacy.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.