Bankruptcy proceedings are processed through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which is part of the federal court system. Unless sealed, all documents filed in a bankruptcy case are public and can be viewed by anyone. Information contained in bankruptcy case documents is also a matter of public record.
What Is a Public Record and Are Bankruptcies Part of It?
Public entities, such as government agencies and courts, collect information that becomes public record. These documents are called public record because the public can gain access to the information. When you file a bankruptcy petition, it goes through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and almost any information contained in the petition then becomes part of the public record like other court documents. Similarly, court proceedings are public records as well, unless if the judge orders the records to be sealed. However, it is rare for bankruptcy judges to seal records.
Is All Information Part of Bankruptcy Records Accessible?
Although most of the information on bankruptcy forms is public record, the most personal information is excluded.
Public information includes:
- Case information, such as the case number, filing date, chapter number, and case status.
- Debt, income and asset information listed on the forms, including a list of creditors and how much each is owed.
- Contact information for you, your creditors and your Stockton bankruptcy attorney
Information that is excluded from public records includes:
- Your social security number as listed on Form B-21
- Your full financial account numbers, only the last four digits are included
- Your birthday, only the birth year is visible
- Names of your minor children, only their initials are visible
How to Access Bankruptcy Records
Anyone who wants to view court records has to access them through a program called PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) or by going to the courthouse. PACER is a federal court electronic case management and filing system that is generally utilized by bankruptcy attorneys and their employees. The three major credit bureaus also routinely use PACER to gain access to records, especially pertaining to their debtors.
You can register for PACER for free, but you may have to pay a fee to actually access the records. This makes it less likely for just anyone to go looking for your records on line.
Call an Experienced Stockton Bankruptcy Attorney
If you are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help you learn your legal rights and options, especially with respect to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley bankruptcy attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323-5558, or complete our online form.