This is always a big question on people’s minds when they finally make the decision to file bankruptcy. Who should they tell? Who must they tell? Who will find out and how?
First of all the number of people who know you filed bankruptcy is probably larger than you are aware, but much smaller than you imagine. A bankruptcy is a public record, meaning anyone can find out. And there are a few specialty publications or websites that list recent bankruptcy filings. But the news isn’t published in the local newspaper. If someone knows where to look they can find you but it’s not like they’ll turn on the local news and see a story about you.
Obviously your creditors will know you’ve filed. That’s the point: to give them notice so they quit hounding you. Your landlord won’t get notice unless you’re behind in your rent. Your employer won’t be told. Neither will your family. Who and how you tell people is up to you. Years ago there was a stigma attached to bankruptcy, much like the stigma that attached to divorce. I remember my parents taking me aside one day years ago and telling me that a neighbor had to file bankruptcy but we shouldn’t treat them any differently. Nowadays bankruptcy, like divorce, is one of those things that happens occasionally.
Beyond your creditors there is no obligation under the Bankruptcy Code to tell anyone that you filed. You might be asked on a loan or job application in the future whether you’ve ever filed. You don’t have to answer that question, but your application might be rejected if you don’t. If you answer, you should answer truthfully.
If you find that you have to file bankruptcy, treat it as one of those cases where bad things sometimes happen to good people.