Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 29, 2020

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There are times when you may need to know whether a company is in bankruptcy. Because both individual and corporate bankruptcy are considered public information under federal law, there are several ways to find out if a company has filed for bankruptcy. Many times business bankruptcies are reported in the news or on investment wires. However, it can be easy to miss these articles if the company in question is not a large multinational corporation. Fortunately, there are other ways to find out if a company is bankrupt.

Asking a Company about its Bankruptcy Status

A more direct way to learn about a company’s status is to ask. If there is an investor relations department in the company’s home office, it can give you more information on the bankruptcy proceeding, including the name, address, and phone number of the court handling the bankruptcy. If you are a stock or bondholder, reach out to the person how sold you the investment. You can ask your broker about the bankruptcy status of a particular business in which you have not invested.

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Using Government Sources to Find Bankruptcy Information

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bankruptcy Court also keep records online and in paper files. Because the SEC plays a small role in reviewing plans of reorganization, it keeps bankruptcy records. Those records can be accessed online or in person at the SEC headquarters in Washington, DC. The Bankruptcy Court in the state where the company is incorporated or has its main place of business will also have those records.

If you want to review court filings, you can access them through the PACER system, which is a web-based index of filings in federal courts. To do so, you need to set up an account. Please note that PACER charges a nominal fee for access to court filings.

Because trustees are appointed in bankruptcy cases, you can also go to the U.S. Trustee at the Department of Justice. The office can help you find the trustee assigned to the company you’re inquiring about. It can also help you obtain information about the status of the bankruptcy.

Getting Help

If you are an investor with a substantial amount of money at stock or you believe you may have been defrauded, then you need the assistance of a securities attorney or bankruptcy attorney. In some cases, even if the company is insolvent, the broker who sold you the stock or bonds, the company’s officers, directors, accountants, and the company’s affiliates or others may have to share at least some of the responsibility for the loss resulting from bankruptcy.