People often ask me who will know about their bankruptcy filing.
Just like most court proceedings, a bankruptcy filing is technically “public information”. However, being public information does not mean that it is “publicized”.
When we filing bankruptcy, we put together what amounts to a mailing list and file that with the court. The court system then sends a notice by mail or electronically to those who are listed on the mailing list. And the credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, Equifax) will pick up the filing and include it in a credit report (for up to ten years after filing).
If you look at the “legal notices” section of your local newspaper, you will see mortgage foreclosures, and probate notices and certificates of assumed name, among other notices. Those are there because a statute requires that information to be published at the expense of the person or company placing the notice. But no one pays the newspaper to publish a bankruptcy notice, so those notices are NOT published in the local paper. If you look in the notices of, for instance, the Sauk Rapids Herald, you will not see any bankruptcy notices.
On Mondays the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press publish a list of bankruptcies, but the list is only for those who look like businesses. For instance “Doug Peterson, d/b/a Doug’s Auto Body” might be listed. But it is very unlikely that the Star Tribute and Pioneer Press would list just “Doug Peterson”. There are specialist newspapers, such as Finance and Commerce, in the Metro area, that list bankruptcies. And for some reason the Duluth News Tribune seems to publish filing information for cases which are filed in Duluth. But other than those, I am not aware of any Minnesota newspaper that publishes bankruptcy notices.
If someone subscribes to the PACER system they can look up a case, but they have to be a subscriber and they have to pay a fee to do so (if the lookups exceed a certain amount per calendar quarter) and they have to look for your case specifically.
Also, a bankruptcy is in the federal court system, not the state court system. Nothing will be automatically filed in the courthouse in the county in which you live (St. Cloud for Stearns County, Foley for Benton County, etc.). So anyone looking in your local courthouse will not learn of your bankruptcy filing from those records, unless there was a specific reason to file a bankruptcy notice in a specific case.
I hope this eases your concern about how public your “public record” would be.
As always, if you have questions, feel free to call me at 320-252-4473.