When you file for Bankruptcy, your case is assigned to a district of the US Bankrutcy Court (each state has at least one district). Your case or your filing is now Public Record. The US Bankruptcy Court even has a web site that lists the case, case number, creditors name, court date, Trustee and your attorney information. Ah yes, the entire world with a few key strokes is privy to your filing and any motions that may or may not be filed along with your case. Your Bankruptcy becomes Public Record.
Public Knowledge is a different kettle of chips. My Bankruptcy may be Public Record, but how many people really have Public Knowledge of the filing and its outcome. My guess is not too many unless you choose to tell them (I'm only talking about personal Bankruptcy, not business for farm), or if they choose to really pursue the information. In my case, I only told three people, my friend James (who probably told all my old friends and acquaintances, he can be very indiscreet) and my very nice neighbors, who probably told a few other folks, but hey I can't control them. No one has come up to me and said, "Oh, Sorry to hear about your Bankruptcy". Why I told James, well I needed to tell SOMEONE, it was after my 341 hearing and I was just going through a low point. I told my neighbor because it was just two days after my 341 hearing when my transmission decided to die on my old car and I had another teary eyed, snotty nosed breakdown.
Who also knows, ~my Town Clerk, I'm pretty positive about that. Probably my postman if he reads the return address on the envelopes I got from the Bankrtutcy Court (in LARGE PRINT-US BANKRUPTCY COURT). In Southern New England (Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut), there is an industry paper called the Commercial Record. It lists real estate transactions and credit reports. They have an entire section dedicated to Credit Reports. By Credit Reports, they report by town, Bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens (judgment, tax, contractor, and other). Most Town Clerks get a complimentary subscription. My Real Estate office gets the Commercial Record and I do read it, not only for the sales reports, but also for the credit section, I will admit, I troll the paper to see who has filed BK. I know you can purchase a mailing list of all Bankruptcy filers. I still get credit card and car loan offers for folks "with challenged credit". It is a sick obsession that I have now. When I lived in Northern Virginia, the Washington Post has a section of the weekly business section that not only listed the Bankruptcy, but the liability and assets of each filer. Thankfully my local paper does not print the Bankruptcy Court Calendars. None of my employers know, none of my family knows, most all of my close friends don't know, I have not told them and as far as I know, they don't know that I have filed. As far as I can tell, Public Knowledge of my Bankruptcy filing is very small.
I know I've said it before, a lot of folks think filing a Bankruptcy is the easy way out. It's not for reasons discussed in prior posts. When I said in my last post it was almost easy to do the filing, it was not because I wanted a way out of my financial responsibilities, it was because I had no way out and things were just going to get even uglier. But the question is "Do I want the entire world to know I filed Bankruptcy?" No, I don't, but the information gets out and gets out to a variety of people. Go for new car or homeowners insurance, they ask if you have a Bankruptcy and you get charged a higher rate (even if you have an excellent driving record!).So now your insurance agent knows, you might not even switch companies, but many insurance companies will check your credit report once a year "just in case". You may have never had a claim, but all of a sudden your rates increase. You hear about and find out about this fantastic job that you would be perfect for, they tell you as they need to run a credit report and you still have the BK on your report. The fact you have outstanding job skills has no bearing, the BK could tip the ball in another candidate's court. Who knows now about your BK, the company you just applied to and the entire interview team.
Facing and having a Bankruptcy in your file is akin to the Scarlet Letter-instead of an A, we wear a BK.
Someone asked in my previous post how to deal with the Public Knowledge of the BK. I honestly don't have an answer. I really wish I did. I'm still dealing with the aftermath of the BK myself. It is hard for me at this point. I have not really developed any great coping skills other than to remind myself I was given a second chance. When I'm having a crummy day (week or month) I try to remain optimistic and upbeat, I try to remind myself that this is a second chance I've been given. What I can do is remind myself that I am lucky that I was given this second chance, that I was able to keep my house, that even with the very recent discharge I was able to get a car loan (albeit with a two digit loan rate-for now at least). I am not a bad person, I volunteer, I was a Girl Scout, I donate to local Charities, I help old ladies across the street, I give up my seat on public transportation, I just happen to be Bankrupt.
I don't think about it too much because if I did, I'd be in bed, covers over my head, wondering why you can just put an IV of pasta and beer in my arm so I would never have to get out and face the world. I really don't want the world or heck, even my small village, to know my fiscal failure. I struggle with the fact I filed Bankruptcy. In the eyes of America, I was a personal fiscal failure. I filed Bankruptcy. It is the public perception in America that if you have filed Bankruptcy, you are less of a person. Not only do we have to have this mark on our credit reports for 7-10 years, the perception is you/we are a failure and America does not like failures. And American's (and almost every other culture) does not like to talk about money and personal fiscal failure.
Anonymous, I wish I had a better answer, I really wish I did. I'd be happy to share it with everyone. All I can say to you is if at least you have learned from your fiscal mistakes and have moved on and on for the better, that is pretty darned good.