Why does the bankruptcy court need my social security number? 

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Written by Andrea Wimmer, Esq.  
Updated January 7, 2020

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Interestingly, there is nothing in the Bankruptcy Code itself that requires the filer to have a social security number. But, your social security number is how you obtain and maintain credit and how your tax filings and liabilities are tracked, so the bankruptcy court system uses it to keep track of bankruptcy cases. So, if you have a social security number, you have to provide it to the bankruptcy court.

While filling out your Voluntary Petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy you may have noticed that the form only asks for the last four digits of your social security number. Yet, there is another form, called the Statement About Your Social Security Numbers, asking you to provide your full social security number to the court. That’s because that Statement is treated differently by the court clerks so it does not end up on the public record. This is done to safeguard your social security number from possible bad actors who might otherwise use the bankruptcy courts’ dockets to steal folks’ social security numbers. 

So, my social security number remains hidden for everyone? 

Not quite. The court includes your full social security number on its initial notice to your creditors, Official Form 309. The court sends this notice to all creditors and other parties requiring notification as listed in your bankruptcy forms. This allows creditors to look up the person who filed for bankruptcy without knowing their full account number. However, as with everything else, the version of Official Form 309 that appears on your publicly available court docket contains only the last four digits of your social security number. 

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Does the court need my social security card, too? 

No, the court does not need your social security card. But, your bankruptcy trustee will have to confirm that the social security number listed in your bankruptcy records is actually your social security number. That’s why one of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure makes it a requirement that you provide evidence of your social security number to your trustee at your 341 meeting of creditors. The best evidence is your original social security card. If you don’t know where that is, you can also use a recent Form W-2 from your employer, a medical insurance card listing your full social security number or any of the documents identified here.

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