Another Bankruptcy Poster Boy

Why you shouldn’t worry about people finding out about your bankruptcy.

One of the principal concerns for debtors contemplating insolvency is the prospect of being ‘named and shamed’, and of people finding out about their bankruptcy. As a frequenter of debt forums, this is a topic I see regularly in posts from those seriously considering this option. It seems that people are keen to use bankruptcy as a way of discharging their debt, so long as nobody finds out.

On one hand, this concern is understandable; in weighing up the pros and cons of bankruptcy, perhaps the most disturbing disadvantage for a debtor to discover is that their bankruptcy is automatically advertised in the press. Immediately this conjures up powerful images of a prominent notice bearing your name and status for all to see. However, this is not as alarming as it sounds – for the reality is less dramatic.

A person’s bankruptcy is indeed advertised, but either in The London Gazette or the local press. The former is the ‘Official Newspaper of Record for the UK’, highly unlikely to be read by friends, family or employers. In terms of local press advertisements, unless you associate with people who have a keen interest in scouring the ‘Notices’ section, it is equally unlikely that your bankruptcy will become common knowledge. The advertisement of bankruptcy is more of a procedural requirement rather than an attempt to bring about public disgrace.  The only people who have genuine cause for concern over the advertisement of their bankruptcy are public figures. Fortunately it is only celebrities who have to suffer the ignominy of a truly publicised bankruptcy.

Another thing to consider is that we do not live in the middle ages where a parlous financial situation would have been the talk of the town, and everybody was far more likely to know your business. We live in an age of faceless corporations and anonymous cities. In this context, what is it to a man if an advertisement of his bankruptcy appears in a newspaper? Even if it were to be plastered on billboards on ever major road into town it would simply become lost amongst the morass of messages and slogans that bombard us from every angle and available surface.

Whilst public humiliation should not be a concern for most debtors, if you rent your property it is likely that the Official Receiver or trustee will inform your landlord of your bankruptcy. If you have always paid the rent on time, you should reassure your landlord that without any debts, you’ll have no problems with the rent. If your landlord is unhappy with the situation, it is recommended that you seek legal advice. Unless you count your landlord in your circle of friends and they regularly join you for pint in the pub, the issue of your insolvency will remain private. 

So, if the prospect of being ‘outed’ is all that is stopping you from discharging your debt and reclaiming your life, then you’ve really nothing to worry about. Neither friends, family, or work colleagues, will find out about your bankruptcy unless you choose to tell them, providing your name isn’t MC Hammer.