Bankruptcy Data and PACER

Bankruptcies data, unlike Liens and Judgements, are collected and maintained on a federal level by the United States Bankruptcy Court and is made available through several pubic sources including PACER (

Because it’s collected and housed at the federal level, it’s a lot easier to maintain record keeping standards regardless of where the record originated. It’s also a lot easier for the public to gain access to these records because they’re all housed in a single location.

The data available in a bankruptcy record usually includes Name, Address, last 4 of the SSN, and occasionally a phone number, email address, or other forms of contact information. In addition to this, you’ll find case numbers, filing dates, chapter number, information about the attorney, judge, debtors, and creditors, amounts owed, and other types of meta-data.

So if this data is so readily available, why is everyone’s bankruptcy search so… “hit and miss”?

The answer lies with PACER. PACER is the Public Access to Court Electronic Records service provided to and funded by the tax payers of this great nation. It is publicly available website and portal that allows people to search for any federal crime, federal court cases, bankruptcies, and case law. It is a great resource for any person to gather information and conduct research. Any person… but what about computers?

Unfortunately, PACER does not provide a usable API (yes, it provides an API, but it’s a bit unfriendly to work with and has a habit of over-charging users by tens of thousands of dollars if not used properly). So that means that data aggregators are left scraping records directly from the PACER web portal.

The problem with crawling the portal is that a lot of data can get left behind, get parsed poorly, or just not scraped at all. Each “page” of results is a 10 cent fee, so scraping the entire database is not feasible from a cost perspective. Most people are left using screen scrapers that do live searches against the PACER website.

There have been rumors for a long time about a new PACER API coming to market – and there are a lot of companies that have built their own API wrapper to the same effect. Fact of the matter is that it’s just a tough nut to crack.

If you’re interested in bankruptcy data, please contact our sales team. We have data from PACER as well as other industry leading vendors.

Next time we’ll talk about bankruptcy investigations, hidden assets, and ways that people try to cheat the system. Stay tuned!

The authors of the information presented on this page are not attorneys nor are they affiliated with attorneys. The information presented on this page does not constitute legal advice. Before acting on any of the information obtained from this page or any others on this website, please consult your own legal counsel.
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