PRIVACY-RELATED RULE CHANGES EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 1. 2003
The Judicial Conference recently approved proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the Official Bankruptcy Forms which will implement the Conference Policy on privacy and public access to electronic case files. These amendments will take effect on December 1, 2003. A summary of the amendments is outlined below:
REQUIREMENTS FOR DEBTORS AND DEBTORS' ATTORNEYS:
- Petitions filed on and after December 1, 2003 should contain only the last four digits of individual debtors' Social Security numbers.
- In cases filed electronically over the court's website, the debtor's attorney should include the debtor's full nine-digit social security number only in the "Debtor Information Pages" prepared as a component of electronic case commencement. The image of the petition should contain only the last four digits (e.g., XXX-XX-1234). An updated Signature Declaration Form should also be submitted with the petition; this updated document contains the necessary debtor verification of the Social Security information submitted in the Debtor Information Pages, as required by amended Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1007.
- Petitions submitted on diskette or in paper form (NOTE: paper petitions should be submitted by pro se debtors only) must be accompanied by a PAPER "Statement of Social Security Number."
- Debtors and debtors' attorneys should continue to send copies of the 341 meeting notice (which will contain the debtor's full nine-digit social security number) to creditors who do not appear on the original matrix provided to the court.
- Amendments to the debtor's social security number should be filed in paper form or to the ERS In Box using the Amendment to Petition Form.
CREDITORS, TRUSTEES AND THE U.S.TRUSTEE:
- The 341 Meeting Notice will provide recipients -- the debtor, creditors, the trustee and the U.S. Trustee -- with the debtor's full Social Security Number.
- The proof of claim form will require a wage creditor to disclose only the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.
THE CLERK'S OFFICE:
- Statements of Social Security Number submitted with a paper or diskette petition will not be filed in the case or become a part of the electronic record.
- The Clerk will include the debtor's full Social Security number, obtained either from the data file or from the paper Statement of Social Security Number, on the 341 meeting notice sent to the debtor, creditors and the trustee. However, the meeting of creditors notice in the case file or electronic record will display only the last four digits of the debtor's social security number.
- Amendments to the debtor's social security number will not be filed in the case or become a part of the electronic record. However, an entry will be made on the docket,reflecting the filing of an amendment to the debtor's social security number, but that entry will not be linked to a document. The Clerk's office will send out a Notice to Creditors re: Correct Social Security Number containing the debtor's full correct social security number. However, the Notice to Creditors re: Correct Social Security Number in the case file or electronic record will display only the last four digits of the debtor's corrected social security number.
- On December 1, 2003, the first five digits of debtors' social security numbers will be redacted from the court's docket in all cases. However, complete social security numbers will appear on the images of petitions and other documents in cases filed before December 1, 2003.
- The Clerk's Office will not provide the debtor's social security number to parties making phone or in-person inquiries. However, if the Clerk's Office is given a debtor's full social security number, the Clerk's Office can verify whether the number given is correct.
FILERS ---- NOT THE CLERK ---- ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR REDACTING SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS AND OTHER PERSONAL DATA IN DOCUMENTS FILED AFTER DECEMBER 1.