Bankruptcy, Public Records and Identity Theft

The documents filed in bankruptcy cases are a matter of public record to which members of the general public has access.  Therefore any personal information contained in the pleadings and papers filed in bankruptcy can be reviewed by any member of the public.  If you are a debtor, you should be aware of the fact that you have no control over who has access to your personal information.

Additionally, several reporting agencies report bankruptcy information and statistics to the public, and credit reporting agencies also regularly collect bankruptcy information.  Access to pleadings and papers filed in bankruptcy cases is generally not restricted unless some good reason is shown for sealing information that is contained in those documents.  A motion must be filed explaining the need to keep the information from public view in order to keep the document under seal.

An adverse effect of bankruptcy documents being public record is that there is high chance of identity theft.  Anyone can find details related to a debtor’s last four digits of the social security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, tax identification number, marital status and also assets and available cash.  These are gold mine to criminals and gangs that focus in identity theft.  Electronic bankruptcy information leaves individuals at a greater risk of identity theft and has added to the rising number of victims of identity theft.

Usually, credit transactions would be less in the first few years of bankruptcy.  A debtor has to keep a very careful watch on his/her credit record.  People interested might be trying to access your financial records in order to steal money in other ways. In case any transactions appear it should be immediately reported to both the credit provider and to the police.  A debtor’s only defense against identity theft after bankruptcy is vigilance.


Inside Bankruptcy, Public Records and Identity Theft