Are Bankruptcy Filings Public Record?

The topic of bankruptcy often stirs up feelings of fear, embarrassment, and overwhelm. Many perceive bankruptcy as the ultimate personal and financial failure. However, it can also provide a fresh start, relieving stress and financial pressure. But one issue often bothers individuals preparing to file for bankruptcy: privacy. They often ask, “Are bankruptcy filings public record?

Yes, bankruptcy filings are part of public record in Canada. However, accessing this information is not as straightforward as conducting a Google search. This article will delve into who can access your bankruptcy information and how they can find it.

The Publication of Bankruptcies

Bankruptcies are indeed published and considered public record in Canada. This implies that the public can carry out a search to ascertain who has declared bankruptcy.

The responsibility of compiling a list of bankruptcies and adding it to a database on their website lies with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada (OSB). Here, the public can conduct a search using an individual’s name or the name of a business.

However, to execute a search, the user must create an Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) account. The OSB website will reveal any specific matches once a search is submitted. But to view the search results, a fee must be paid. Each set of 10 results or less costs $8. If there are 20 results, it will cost $16, and so forth.

What Information is Available in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Records Search?

The Bankruptcy and Insolvency database contains the following information:

  1. Debtor information of all bankruptcies and proposals registered in Canada since 1978
  2. All receiverships registered with the Bankruptcy and Insolvency office since January 1993
  3. All petitions recorded at the office
  4. All companies that have been granted protection under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) since September 18, 2009

Do Canadian Credit Bureaus Get Notified?

Yes, the Canadian credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, are notified of your bankruptcy. Each month, the OSB sends a list of bankruptcies to the credit bureaus. If you declare bankruptcy, this information will stay on your credit report for six years after being discharged. If you declare bankruptcy more than once, it will stay on your credit report for 14 years.

Will My Creditors Know if I File for Bankruptcy?

Yes, once you have officially declared bankruptcy, your Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) is responsible for notifying all of your creditors. This can be beneficial as your creditors can no longer contact you or proceed with any legal action once they are aware of your bankruptcy.

Will My Employer Get Informed?

Mostly, your employer will not be informed about your bankruptcy filing. But there are a few exceptions. For instance, if you are facing wage garnishment and you want to stop it, then your LIT will need to communicate with your employer.

Legally, as outlined in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, an employer cannot terminate you solely because you filed for bankruptcy. However, if you work in specific industries such as financial services, your specific role may be impacted.

Who Else Will Know About My Bankruptcy Filing?

In most cases, the only people who will know about your bankruptcy filing are your Licensed Insolvency Trustee and anyone you decide to tell. Unless you are a high-net-worth individual or frequently in the media, there’s little to worry about.

Will My Licensed Insolvency Trustee Reveal That I Have Filed for Bankruptcy?

No, your LIT adheres to a strict code of ethics. They will only share this information with the OSB and your creditors unless certain circumstances require them to inform your employer. Your LIT can only reveal your bankruptcy information if it is mandated by law or if you give them explicit permission.

If the fear of bankruptcy becoming public record is delaying your decision, your first step should be to reach out to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. A LIT can guide you through the bankruptcy process and hopefully alleviate some of your worries. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone; there is professional help available.

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