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Before You File, Review For “Personally Identifiable Information” and Redact: Indiana Overview

Most if not all states, including Indiana, have rules requiring the redaction of so-called “personally identifiable information” (PII) before documents may be filed with a court. (Don’t know what “redaction” means? This article helps explain.) Generally speaking, each document should be prepared according to the court’s respective guidelines and jurisdictional/county rules. Examples of these documents include, but are not limited to, complaints for foreclosure, affidavits, judgments, and bankruptcy filings.

Federal rules. For federal court actions, see Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 5.2 and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9037.

Indiana rules. Indiana’s Rules on Access to Court Records (the “Rules”) govern our state court matters. There are only 12 rules, and Indiana practitioners and their staffs should take a minute to review (or re-review) them. For purposes of today’s post, Rule 5(C)(1) is key:

        (C) Personal Information of Litigants, Witnesses, and Children:

            (1) Unless necessary to the disposition of the case, the following information shall be redacted, and no notice of exclusion from Public Access is required:

                (a) Complete Social Security Numbers of living persons;
                (b) Complete account numbers, personal identification numbers, and passwords.

If the information is necessary to the disposition of the case, the document containing the confidential information shall be filed on green paper (if paper filing) or filed as a confidential document (if e-filed). A separate document with the confidential information redacted shall be filed on white paper (if paper filing) or filed as a public document (if e-filing). A separate ACR Form identifying the information excluded from public access and the Rule 5 grounds for exclusion shall also be filed.

Note that Rule 11 provides that lawyers and/or their clients can be subject to sanctions for failing to comply with the Rules. Again, any PII not required in the filing should be redacted.

Examples of PII. The following is a list of the type of information that should be redacted, but the list is not all inclusive:

• Social Security Number(s)

• Taxpayer Identification Number ("TIN")

• Driver’s License Number(s) or other Government identification number

• Loan Originator/ Loan Application Number(s)

• Servicer Loan Number(s)

• Third Party Loan/File Number(s)

• Bank Account Number (may include copy of imaged check)

• Any Financial Account, credit card numbers, Escrow Account Number(s)

• Customer Reference Number(s)

• Mortgage Identification Number ("MIN")

• Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Number (“MERS”)

• Birthdates

• Insurance Policy Number(s)

• Any Minor Child Information

• Any Images that may include NPPI

• Telephone Numbers

• Bar Codes on Collateral Documents for any of the above numbers, except as may otherwise be required in documents that are filed as part of the public record.

Other tips.

• All information, including attachments and exhibits, should be reviewed for PII (including handwritten information).

• Even if a previously-recorded document, such as a mortgage, contains PII, redaction still should occur.

• With today’s computer software, redactions can (and should) be accomplished electronically.

• We advise redacting with a clearly visible black box to reflect where PII has been removed. The black box should completely cover the PII.

• Be careful not to redact any original loan documents such as an original promissory note.

Credit. I would like to thank my colleague Edward Boll, who helps lead Dinsmore’s default servicing and consumer bankruptcy practice group in Cincinnati. Ed and his team prepared the majority of today’s content.  Thanks for sharing your presentation, Ed.
I represent parties involved in disputes arising out of loans that are in default. If you need assistance with a similar matter, please call me at 317-639-6151 or email me at john.waller@dinsmore.com. Also, don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter @JohnDWaller or on LinkedIn, or you can subscribe to posts via RSS or email as noted on my home page.