Interestingly, there is nothing in the Bankruptcy Code that requires bankruptcy filers to have a Social Security number (SSN). But your SSN 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. That’s why 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 SSN. But there’s another form, called the Statement About Your Social Security Numbers, that asks you to provide your full SSN to the court. The court doesn’t include this paperwork with your other documents that become part of the public record. This safeguards filers from possible bad actors who might use the bankruptcy courts’ records to steal SSNs.
Is My Social Security Number Hidden From Everyone?
Not quite. The court includes your full SSN on its initial notice to your creditors, Official Form 309A. 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 309A that appears on your publicly available court docket contains only the last four digits of your SSN.
Does the Court Need My Social Security Card, Too?
No, the court doesn’t need your Social Security card. But, your bankruptcy trustee will have to confirm that the SSN listed in your bankruptcy records is actually yours. That’s why the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure requires you to provide proof of your SSN to your trustee at the 341 meeting of creditors. The best proof 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 SSN, or any of the documents listed here.