Privacy-Related Amendments to Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure

The Judicial conference has approved proposed amendments to Rules 1005, 1007, and 2002 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and to several Official Bankruptcy Forms, which will implement the Conference policy on privacy and public access to electronic case files. Barring Congressional action, these amendments will take effect December 1, 2003.

Key changes resulting from the privacy amendments include the following:

• The court shall collect the debtor’s full nine-digit Social Security number but display only the last four digits on all public documents. In accordance with Rule 2002, the Notice of the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors that is mailed to all creditors and parties in interest will include the full social security number, but the copy maintained in the court case file will contain only the last four digits of the social security number.

• Official Form 1, Voluntary Petition, will be revised to require only the last four digits of the social security number. Amendments to Rule 1007 will require debtors to submit to the clerk’s office a new form, “Statement of Social Security Number” (Form B21), which is a verified statement containing the full nine-digit social security number. This document will not be made part of the official case file available to the public at the clerk’s office or over the Internet.

• Official Form 16A, Caption (Full), will be amended to include only the last four digits of the debtor’s social security number. Accordingly, subsequent notices (after the Section 341 notice) will either include the last four digits or none if Official Form 16B, Caption (Short Title), is used.

• Official Form 10, Proof of Claim, will require a wage creditor to disclose only the last four digits of the creditor’s social security number.

Attorneys and pro se filers, not the clerk, are responsible for redacting social security numbers and other personal identifiers such as dates of birth, financial account numbers, and names of minor children in documents they file with the court. Additionally, in compliance with the E-government Act of 2002, a party wishing to file a document containing personal data identifiers may file an unredacted document under seal. This document shall be retained by the court as part of the record. The court may, however, also require the party to file a redacted copy for the public file.

The amended bankruptcy forms as well as Form B21 must be used beginning December 1, 2003. In addition, all other documents filed on or after that date should not contain the debtor’s full social security number. Information regarding the entirety of the Rule and Form amendments, including the new privacy requirements, is available on the Federal Rulemaking page of the Judiciary’s website at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/index.html. Click on “Pending Rules Amendments Waiting Final Action,” and then select “Amendments Submitted to the Judicial Conference (Sept. 2002).”

 

 

Joseph Simmons
Clerk of Court
November 18, 2003