Publishing New Hampshire Bankruptcy Filings

A question I am often asked by clients is whether newspapers or other media will publish the fact that they filed a bankruptcy petition.  These days, the answer is generally “no.”  Over twenty years ago, the Manchester Union Leader would publish public notice of every filing made in the state.  But this was more or less because few bankruptcies were actually filed, relatively speaking.

In 1986, something less than 700 total filings occurred in New Hampshire.  The next year, the filings nearly doubled to over 1,300.  In 1988, filings jumped again to over 2,000.  Filings continued to rise steadily, especially after the 1988 stock market crash which, in my opinion, led to the NH (and elsewhere) real estate crash such that in at least one year in the 90’s, filings went above the 5,000 mark.

At some point, newspapers apparently decided that the effort to plant the “Scarlet B” on debtors’ foreheads was not worth it.  Today, consumer bankruptcies are rarely published.  Publication is usually reserved for some businesses and prominent individuals.  I tell my clients that the only entities that will know about their filing is usually limited to their attorney, their creditors, the trustee, those who are present at the creditors meeting (usually other debtors and their attorneys), and whomever they tell.  If they feel it is necessary to make a confession to everyone they meet, I suppose they are free to do so.  But I figure it is their business, and no one else’s except for creditors and trustees.