What can other people find about my bankruptcy?
Like most people, Donald Trump wants to keep his financial records private. While Mr. Trump’s finances may or may not have implications on public policy matters, ordinary people like you and me can generally remain anonymous when it comes to our P&L statements and net worth. That is, until we file for bankruptcy.
Trump Company Bankruptcies
Despite Mr. Trump’s attempts to shield his financial information, BuzzFeed recently got ahold of the bankruptcy filings for three of Trump’s companies. These mid-1990’s filings have shed some light on the $916 million loss reflected in a portion of Mr. Trump’s financial documents published by the New York Times.
Bankruptcy Filings Are Public Records
Some may be surprised by the fact that hundreds of pages of financial documents and court records have been made available online for all to see. The truth is, bankruptcies are a matter of public record and are available to anyone who knows where to look.
While most people know that a personal bankruptcy like Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies will appear on your credit report, they don’t know that almost all of the documents that you filed with the court are also available to those who want to know. The easiest way for people to get ahold of your bankruptcy filings is through a site called PACER (short for Public Access to Court Electronic Records).
What Information Can People See?
Essentially, anyone who looks up your bankruptcy in PACER can see all of the documents filed with the court, with sensitive information like social security numbers and financial account numbers blocked out. This means that people can see how much money you had in your bank accounts at that time, what assets you had and what debts you had incurred.
Additionally, in every bankruptcy proceeding, there is what’s known as a 341 Meeting where creditors may show up and contest the dissolution of the debt. These are public meetings that anyone may attend.
Finally, your name may appear in your local newspaper in the public notices section at some point during your bankruptcy process. If you live in a town where the local government publishes these public notices on a special channel, then your name may appear on TV as well.
How Likely Is My Information To Get Out?
For people not in the public eye, it is highly unlikely that others will actively seek out your bankruptcy information. Some exceptions include employers who may need to do background checks on their employees and landlords who want to better understand the financial situation of their tenants. While some background checks merely include surface information like the fact that you did file for bankruptcy, if people want to go deeper and know where to look, they can gain access to your entire filing.
In reality, most people file for bankruptcy in relative anonymity.
Having an experienced bankruptcy attorney on your side can help minimize exposure down the road. If you have questions about your financial situation, contact Hanson & Payne today at 414-271-4550.