Dealing with Returned or Undeliverable Mail from the Bankruptcy Court
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If a creditor’s address is incorrect on the creditor matrix, the court’s notices to the creditor will be returned as undeliverable. You’ll either receive the returned mail (as you’re listed as the “sender” even though the court mailed the document) or a Notice of Undeliverable Mail from the court. Or both.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated October 6, 2020
When you file bankruptcy, the court sends a document called the “Official Form 309A Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case — No Proof of Claim” to the creditors you listed on your bankruptcy paperwork. This form gives each creditor important information about your case and tells them what they need to do if they have a reasonable objection to your bankruptcy.
If a creditor’s address is incorrect on the creditor matrix, the court’s notices to the creditor will be returned as undeliverable. You’ll either receive the returned mail (as you’re listed as the “sender” even though the court mailed the document) or a Notice of Undeliverable Mail from the court. Or both. You may also notice that the court’s “Certificate of Notice” has an “undeliverable” notation next to one or more of your creditors.
The Certificate of Notice confirms that the court sent a notice about your bankruptcy filing to all of the addresses listed on the certificate. If you notice that one or more creditors are marked as “undeliverable” on the Certificate of Notice, the creditor did not receive what the court sent them because the address was inaccurate.
Here’s how to handle this:
First, find the creditor’s correct address and send the notice to them as soon as possible. If you want to make sure the court has a record of this, you can submit a certificate of service to the court to add to your case docket.
Then, you have two options:
If you got a Notice of Undeliverable Mail (or something along those lines) from the bankruptcy court, follow the instructions provided in the notice. These notices vary somewhat from district to district, so if you’re not sure how to fill out and return the form, contact the court where you filed your petition and speak to someone in the clerk’s office about what you need to do.
If you only received the returned mail (or the notice didn’t have any instructions on how to update the creditors address), follow these steps to update the creditor’s address with the court.
Since this will ensure that the creditor will get all notices going forward, you shouldn’t have to file any amendments to update the address.
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What if the creditor doesn’t ever get the notice?
The good news is that, in most states, the debt is erased even if the creditor does not receive this notice in a no-asset Chapter 7 case. This is because there would have been no funds available to pay the debt even if they were given a chance to object. It’s a “no harm, no foul” rule.
Some states don’t follow the “no harm, no foul” approach — if the creditor does not receive notice, the debt is not erased (unless the creditor otherwise knew about the bankruptcy). So, it’s best to update the creditor’s address once you realize there’s a problem.
Also, note that the "no harm, no foul" approach does not apply if the court sends a "Notice of Need to File Proof of Claim Due to Recovery of Assets" or similar notice in your case. This signals that your case is not a no-asset case and it's important to update the address for any creditor who didn't receive this notice as soon as possible in addition to sending them a copy of the notice.