Protect your privacy in bankruptcy – Redact!

06 Feb Protect your privacy in bankruptcy – Redact!

People who file bankruptcy cases need to provide tons of information. You need to disclose all kinds of things, such as:

  • Your social security number
  • Your account numbers for credit cards and other liabilities
  • Where you work
  • How many dependents you have
  • Your budget
  • The identity of your creditors

Your bankruptcy petition is a public record. Anybody, and I mean anybody, can learn an awful lot and maybe even too much about you by looking at your bankruptcy papers. Even more than they could learn by looking at your income tax return.

How can you protect your privacy? How can you protect yourself against identity theft? It’s not easy.

But the one word answer which you must be sure your lawyer does carefully is redaction. Redaction is simply a fancy legal word for editing. You want to disclose enough information for the creditors to identify you but not so much that somebody else could hijack your identity.

Your social security number is a part of your bankruptcy petition. However, only the last 4 digits should appear. The rest of it should be in the form of xxx-xx-1234 for example. The same thing is true with credit card numbers. Only the last 4 digits should appear on your papers. For example xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-1234.

Another important point is that names of minor children should never appear on a bankruptcy petition. You are called upon to disclose your family members. Disclose your family members only by first initial or even as Child1, Child 2 etc.

Both the Bankruptcy Code in section 109 and the Bankruptcy Rules in rule 9037 provide for specific protections against disclosure of private facts. Not even creditors can disclose the name of a minor child, your identifying information from a social security number, your birthday, or your full account number. Be vigilant and ask your lawyer to protect you against improper disclosure of private information.

 

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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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