When you file a bankruptcy case, one of your responsibilities is to make sure you have disclosed all your creditors. If a creditor is not listed on your case, the debt owed to that creditor will not be discharged; other problems can also arise in your case from a failure to disclose debts and assets. One of the most frequent questions we hear from our clients is, “I’m just not sure exactly who I owe money to! How can I find this out?”
This is actually quite normal. Many clients do not precisely know every single company or person they may owe money to. This could be because a client does not have current or accurate records, but it could also be due to a number of other common factors. The debtor may have stopped receiving bills because they have moved to a new city or state, or the debt may be very old. There may be debts that are only remembered with fragmentary, incomplete information. It also sometimes happens that debts change hands from one collection agency or creditor to another, and the debtor may not know who the current creditor actually is. Many of our business clients will find that there are a large number of smaller, obscure vendors or suppliers that have claims against them or their business.
So the situation can be complicated and confusing. Under the rules of the Bankruptcy Code, a person is required to list all debts and assets when a case is filed. So it is important to get things right. It is possible to amend one’s schedules later and add an additional creditor or creditor that was unintentionally omitted from a case, but that can involve unnecessary expense. What is the best way to handle these types of situations?
At our firm, we use a comprehensive, special search product tailored for bankruptcy attorneys that searches all three credit reporting agencies. Additionally, this service searches court records to look for information relevant to a bankruptcy case, such as lawsuits, judgment liens, tax information, changes of address, and other relevant data. Although many attorneys do not bother to use a service like this, we feel that it is an extremely important part of the pre-filing review that takes place. We do not want our clients to go through a bankruptcy case only to find out that there were debts out there that were not listed. Our search efforts have proven to be extremely useful and effective: almost all clients will find out that there was some creditor lurking out there that they were not aware of.
Besides this investigative function, the creditor search process provides other benefits as well. It frees the client from having to comb through tortuous records, letters, statements, bills, and other paperwork, and from having to write down extensive lists of creditors and their addresses.
For these reasons, we strongly believe that the creditor search service performs a critical function in the pre-filing review stage of a bankruptcy case. Our firm has recognized this fact for many years, and values the calming effect that the service has on our clients. People can feel a certain peace of mind knowing that a diligent search is being done for every creditor out there they may have. And when our clients feel satisfied, we feel the same way.
Read more about consumer bankruptcy cases here.