In 2015, more than 12,000 Utah bankruptcy cases were filed. Across the United States, bankruptcies for the year totaled nearly 845,000.
Despite knowing that financial struggles affect thousands every year, many Utah residents are embarrassed by the thought of filing bankruptcy. Our clients often worry that others — including family, friends and co-workers — could find out about their case.
So, will everyone know if you file for bankruptcy?
Are Utah Bankruptcy Records Public?
First, the news you probably don’t want to hear: All Utah bankruptcy filings are a matter of public record.
This information is made public so that potential creditors have a fair picture of your financial history. Creditors must take bankruptcies into account when considering loan approvals and interest rates, as those who have filed for bankruptcy are considered a riskier investment.
In fact, most legal documents filed within the court systems are public.
What Does “of the Public Record” Mean in a Utah Bankruptcy?
Your bankruptcy information will be publicly available. But that’s not the same as becoming public knowledge.
Unless you’re famous or running for office, it’s unlikely that anyone will be talking about your case on the evening news or social media. And today, most local newspapers don’t report on bankruptcies.
So what, exactly, does “of the public record” mean? This simply means that your documents are not sealed. Creditors, attorneys and members of the general public can view information on your case if they conduct a search.
Will Everyone Find Out About Your Utah Bankruptcy?
Just because someone could see your bankruptcy records doesn’t mean everyone will know you filed.
Your friends, family and co-workers aren’t likely to stumble across information about your case by accident. If someone wants to know, they’ll have to either head to the courthouse to search the records or sign up for an account on the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) website. Access to court documents isn’t free, so they’ll have to pay to learn about your Utah bankruptcy.
The information also will come up if you give anyone permission to run your credit report or conduct a background check. It’s possible someone could catch a glimpse of you during your bankruptcy court hearing or overhear you informing a creditor that you have filed. But otherwise, no one will know unless you tell them.
Really, though, does it matter if others learn that you have filed for bankruptcy? Filing for bankruptcy means you are taking a brave step to secure your own financial future. Don’t let fears of what other people might think stop you from seeking the debt relief you need.
Are you ready to take control of your finances?
The experienced attorneys at Lewis Adams & Associates can guide you through the process. Call our Salt Lake City area office today to schedule your Utah bankruptcy consultation.