Who Can See My Bankruptcy Records?

| Category: Bankruptcy in Ontario | Bankruptcy FAQ
Category: Bankruptcy in Ontario | Bankruptcy FAQ | (3) comments

Filing for bankruptcy might feel like you’ve donned a bright red sandwich board trumpeting the news of this unfortunate turn your life has taken to the world.

bankruptcy recordsRest assured: that is far from the truth.

The news of your bankruptcy does not need to be shared with more than just a handful of people, and most of them are not people you will meet and talk to every day.

A bankruptcy or consumer proposal is a matter of public record. That means that another private individual could, in theory, look up and find evidence that you have taken these steps (if they’re willing to cough up the $8 for a search). Realistically however, unless you are famous, the chances are fairly remote than anyone will want to bother conducting a bankruptcy search on your name.

Technically speaking, the only individuals with whom the news of your bankruptcy needs to be shared are your trustee and the creditors to whom you owe money.

Typically, the bankruptcy process unfolds as follows:

  • You file for bankruptcy or a proposal and the trustee notifies your creditors and the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy of this action.
  • Your creditors attach a note to your file indicating that you have declared bankruptcy.

This information follows you via your credit report for a stretch of time after your bankruptcy. For a first-time bankrupt, that means six years after your discharge (a proposal will be noted on your credit report for three years after you have completed the proposal payments).

The trustee is not required to publish a newspaper ad to advise your creditors about your bankruptcy unless the assets being seized and sold will bring a value in excess of $15,000 to your estate (after any secured debt owing on those assets is addressed). This is much more common when a business files a bankruptcy than an individual. And you needn’t publish a word about a consumer proposal.

Finally, it’s meaningful to bear in mind that it’s against the bankruptcy rules for your trustee to disclose confidential information about your bankruptcy with anyone, unless he’s compelled to do so by law, or in special circumstances where you’ve given him permission. For example, you might instruct your trustee to notify your employer of your bankruptcy so that the logistical matter of your wage garnishment can be dealt with.

If you’re still anxious about declaring bankruptcy or filing a consumer proposal, contact a bankruptcy trustee. They can put your anxieties to rest and help you decide if filing for bankruptcy is best for your finances which is what really matters.

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    Can anyone search for a person’s bankruptcy records after 7 years?
    Is the info on file and accessible forever for just an eight dollar charge?
    In other words a person could expect an employer, creditor or political opponent exposing a persons financial pass.

    Look forward to your response.

    Thank you

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes, Trustee

      Hi Edward. All bankruptcies filed in Canada are public information. For an $8 charge anyone can do a search on the Superintendent of Bankruptcy website. Their records go back to 1973. So yes, anyone can do a search. In most cases an employer or creditor would look at your credit report, which generally doesn’t contain information older than 7 years. However, in your example, yes, a political opponent could search for older information (assuming the voters think that what you did many years ago is relevant).


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