Filing Bankruptcy and Privacy: Protecting Your Personal Information
Many people do not realize that when they file bankruptcy, the paperwork is “public record”. In other words, your Bankruptcy documents can be accessed by anyone who goes to the courthouse and requests to see them.
Additionally, your social security number is disclosed to your creditors in Bankruptcy filings. That is how they identify you.
Further, when your creditors file a “Proof of Claim” – which is the document proving you owe them money – they may also include person al information about you or even your family! For example, if you owe a hospital money for treatment one of your children obtained, the hospital’s “Proof of Claim” might include your child’s full name, birthdate and possibly even their social security number.
Bankruptcy Privacy Laws
The good news is that the Bankruptcy Rules require that personally identifiable information must be “redacted” – which means “edited out of” – of your file. So only certain information is supposed to be disclosed in publicly available documents.
However, the bad news is that if you and/or your lawyer do not monitor and enforce these “redaction” requirements, your information may still be publicly visible.
Bankruptcy Rule 9017 states that the following personal information must be redacted from Bankruptcy files and documents:
- the last four digits of the social-security number;
- the last four digits of taxpayer-identification number;
- the year of the individual’s birth;
- a minor’s name and/or initials;
- the last four digits of any financial-account number.
How to Protect Your Private Information in Bankruptcy
Remember, it is up to you and your bankruptcy attorney to make sure there is compliance with these “redaction” requirements. And, in some cases, if your own bankruptcy petition discloses personal information, you may be deemed to have waived the right to keep it private.
Always review your Bankruptcy documents and take immediate action to protect your privacy if you believe your personal information has not been “redacted” or removed, as required by the Bankruptcy Rules.
In serious cases, you or your bankruptcy attorney can even pursue legal action against a creditor who has not redacted (removed) the required personal information.
Not every court will recognize a damage case for violations of privacy rights by a creditor, but don’t be afraid to discuss with your bankruptcy attorney whether you may recourse if your privacy has been violated by a creditor in your bankruptcy case.
Southfield’s Best Bankruptcy Lawyers
If you or a loved one is faced with debt – call our experienced Southfield bankruptcy lawyers today for a free consultation.
Our skilled and affordable bankruptcy lawyers have helped hundreds of individuals in the Southfield area, and across the greater Wayne County & Oakland County area, reduce or wipe out their debt by filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
Call our experienced Southfield bankruptcy lawyers today for a FREE CONSULTATION to see how filing bankruptcy can help you!