Perusing the Star Tribune this morning, I came across a short article listing several local business bankruptcies.
Consumers who are considering filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy often worry about the publicity of bankruptcy. Everyone is going to find out, they think.
Newspapers list business bankruptcies because those bankruptcies usually interest the public. Business bankruptcy often affects jobs and the economy in a certain area, depending on the size and influence of a company.
However, the article in today's paper reminded me that the Star Tribune doesn't list personal, consumer bankruptcies. Neither do most newspapers across the country. The papers simply don't have enough space in their printed versions to devote to announcing citizen bankruptcy. Arguably, there's plenty of space on their websites, but who's going to read a list of unknown debtors online?
I recently wrote a blog post for the Top Finance Blog on the subject "If I file for bankruptcy, who will find out?" To boil the post down to a few key points:
- Bankruptcy (consumer or commercial) is a matter of public record.
- When credit bureaus find out about a bankruptcy, they notify all creditors and cite the bankruptcy on the debtor's credit report.
- Other than the credit bureaus and creditors, nobody has to know about a bankruptcy unless the debtor specifically tells them.
This may be oversimplifying a bit, but really, if you file bankruptcy, your credit bureau and your creditors are the only ones who know about it. And your lawyer, of course. Understandably, it will be difficult to keep the news of your bankruptcy quiet in your family and amongst close friends - but if it's necessary, it can be done.
But with regards to the fear about making front page headlines of your local newspaper, worriers can sleep peacefully. Consumer bankruptcy is rarely publicized as a news item these days unless you're a celebrity.