Who is going to know if I file bankruptcy? I get this question a lot. This past Friday, I was asked this question by a client in my Dalton, Georgia office.
When you meet with me, I promise to give you the cold hard truth. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is that filing bankruptcy is a matter of public record. In order to access the PACER bankruptcy records, you must have a login and a password. Usually, only attorneys have access to PACER.
I was shocked when I first moved to Rome, Georgia and found out that the Rome News Tribune publishes weekly filings of Northwest Georgia bankruptcies in the section of the newspaper entitled the Roman Record. They are the only newspaper that I know of who chooses to take this action. There is no law that requires the Rome News Tribune to publish names and case numbers of bankruptcy debtors. I’m not sure why they choose to inflict more suffering on people who are already suffering but they do. I wish there was a way for me to make them stop but I can’t.
The Rome News Tribune also publishes the names of the parties in creditor lawsuits. As a result, if you ignore your creditors and they end up filing a lawsuit against you, your name will still be published in the Roman Record. Why not consider bankruptcy and address the debt issues? The problem won’t go away by itself.
A Chapter 13 or a Chapter 7 will appear on your credit report shortly after you file bankruptcy. Chapter 13 will stay on your credit report for 7 years and a Chapter 7 will stay on your credit report for 10 years from the date you file for bankruptcy. As a consequence, when you apply for future loans, the lender will know that you have filed for bankruptcy.
Its not as bad as you might think. Thousands of people in Georgia have filed for bankruptcy and recovered. Just because you file for bankruptcy does not mean that you will never be able to obtain credit again. Most of my clients know friends who have filed and recovered. If you start asking around, you might be surprised.