When people who are about to file bankruptcy in Las Vegas look at the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition form [http://www.uscourts.gov/FormsAndFees/Forms/BankruptcyForms.aspx], they note it asks for a Social Security number. The form includes this measure to prevent people from committing bankruptcy fraud, such as filing in someone else’s name, which would be disastrous. It’s also there to ensure the petitioner’s identity, another example the Social Security number serving as a de facto citizen identification number. However, de facto is not law, and technically debtors are not obligated to provide the bankruptcy court and their creditors with their Social Security numbers. No such requirement exists in the bankruptcy code.
What to do instead? Here are some dos and don’ts.
- If you have a Social Security number and you know it, use it.
- Do not use someone else’s number, even a spouse’s.
- Do not make a number up, and do not use an old number if you were issued a new one.
- If you do not have a Social Security number, you can instead use an individual tax identification number (ITIN). The IRS provides these on its Web site.
- If you do not have a Social Security number, simply indicate that you do not.
- A bankruptcy petition is a sworn legal document. Making a false statement on it is perjury, which can result in dismissal and other adverse consequences.
- Many people are concerned about whether citizenship or immigration statuses affect the validity of their bankruptcy petitions. They most certainly do not. The bankruptcy court does not ask your immigration status, the trustee won’t, and nor do your creditors—especially because if it mattered they would’ve looked into it before issuing any loans. Bankruptcy will not affect immigration procedures unless applicants commit a crime connected to bankruptcy, such as fraud.
- The trustee might ask about your Social Security number at the meeting of the creditors (the “section 341 meeting”). If you used an ITIN you will have to provide that instead, but even if you don’t have the Social Security card itself, often pay stubs and even credit reports with your number on them will suffice.
- Although filing bankruptcy becomes part of the public record, your Social Security number will, of course, remain private.
Bankruptcy is a process that’s meant to help debtors, not punish them, but it is necessary to establish that you are who you say you are. If you don’t know your Social Security number, or don’t have one, be honest about it and talk to your bankruptcy lawyer before filing.
For more questions about bankruptcy in Las Vegas, please feel free to contact an experienced Haines & Krieger Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney for a free initial consultation. Call us at 1-702-880-5554 to set up your free consultation.