By Dave Kelly, Minnesota Bankruptcy Attorney
This is the first in a series about what I consider to be the top seven bankruptcy myths. There are lots of rumors and misconceptions out there. I keep hearing the same ones over and over. One common idea – which is almost never true – is that everyone in your life is going to find out you filed bankruptcy.
Personal Bankruptcies Are No Longer Published in The Newspaper
Many of my clients have one or more side hustles such as selling tupperware or driving for door dash. If they happen to have set up an LLC, a small corporation or even just registered a trade name, then we often have to include the trade name in the heading of the bankruptcy case. In the eyes of the StarTribune, that used to make it a business bankruptcy. They used to publish a list of business bankruptcies – if the case was filed in Minneapolis or St. Paul – in their Monday business section. There was hardly anybody who ever looked at that anyway, but they appear to have stopped doing that in 2021. When I search the StarTribune web site for bankruptcy listings like that, I don’t see any after June of 2021.
Regular run-of-the-mill consumer bankruptcies never were published anywhere as far as I know; one exception was that cases for people living in the Mankato area used to be published in the Mankato Free Press. I have searched the Mankato Free Press web site, and what I see is that they seem to have stopped publishing bankruptcies years ago. That kind of stuff makes for very boring reading and takes up valuable space.
Bankruptcy Filings Are Public – But Not Easy to Find
It is true that bankruptcy filings are public information. But to access the filings in the bankruptcy court you need to have a Pacer account. Pacer is a lot like Paypal and is used to pay the per page fee to look at filings in federal courts. You have to really want and need to have access to those court filings to go so far as to set up an account like that, and few people do it. This means that very few people and very few entities actually have access to the filings.
There is a list of people or companies that are required to be notified of your bankruptcy filing. All the creditors have to be notified. Your landlord will be notified. So will any co-debtors. The landlords usually don’t care as long as you keep paying your rent. Your employer will not be notified unless the employer is also a creditor. Your credit report will show the bankruptcy filing – but that is protected by various privacy laws and is not available to the public.
Friends, Neighbors and Relatives Usually Will Never Know
Outside of those on the official notification list, it would be unusual for anybody to find out unless you tell them. The idea that all your friends, neighbors and relatives will know you filed bankruptcy is one of the most common myths.
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