Bankruptcy and privacy – your “personally identifiable information” must be protected

23 Jan Bankruptcy and privacy – your “personally identifiable information” must be protected

Your bankruptcy is a public record. In some places, bankruptcy filings might even be published in a local newspaper. It will be on your credit report for as long as 10 years.

Still, you are entitled to privacy – even in bankruptcy.

Personally identifiable information must be protected.

Your social security number will be disclosed to creditors. That’s how they identify you as you.

However, you are entitled to protect your privacy. Certain personally identifiable information must be “redacted” or edited so that only certain information is disclosed in publicly available filings. This is enforced by Bankruptcy Rule 9017.

Redacted information includes:

(1) the last four digits of the social-security number and taxpayer-identification number;

(2) the year of the individual’s birth;

(3) the minor’s initials; and

(4) the last four digits of the financial-account number.

It is up to you, as the client, to be sure that your attorney complies with these “redaction” requirements. If your own petition discloses information, you are deemed to have waived it.

Sometimes, a creditor might disclose “personally identifiable information” about you or your children in a proof of claim. Take immediate action to protect your privacy. In serious cases, you or your lawyer may want to pursue a claim against the creditor. Damages might include the cost of a credit monitoring service plus an attorneys’ fee. Not every court recognizes damage claims for violations of privacy right. But don’t be afraid to seen recourse if your privacy has been violated by a creditor in your bankruptcy case.

Lakelaw represents people in bankruptcy cases in Illinois and Wisconsin. We value your privacy and strive to protect it.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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