The Office of Court Administration (“OCA”) has promulgated section — 202.5(e) — to the Uniform Civil Rules of the Supreme and County Courts to require all civil filings in New York to have the confidential personal information of litigants redacted to mitigate the potential for identity theft.
According to a spokesman for the Unified Court System, the new rules are similar to the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2(a), which requires the redaction of personal identifying information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, birth dates, and more from federal court filings.
The New York rules will require redactions in for the following confidential personal information:
- The taxpayer identification number of an individual or entity, including Social Security number, employer identification number (“EIN”), and individual taxpayer identification number must be redacted to include only the last four digits;
- An individual’s birth date shall only be notated as the year;
- A minor can only be identified by his or her initials; and
- A financial account number, including a credit card, debit card, bank account number, investment account number or insurance account number must be redacted to include only the last four digits.
Redaction of confidential personal information in civil filings is the responsibility of the filing party, not court personnel. Compliance with the new rules is voluntary beginning January 1, 2015 until February 28, 2015. After that, compliance is mandatory.
The OCA noted several exceptions to the new rules:
In consumer credit cases, if a defendant denies that he or she owns the specific account, a plaintiff may amend the filing to include the entire account number for in camera review and court verification.
If filing parties have a good faith belief that complete identifying information is necessary to provide a ruling in the case, they can file a confidential affidavit with the complete information to the court.
The court may order upon a motion of a party or on its own accord that papers already filed be resubmitted with confidential personal information redacted.
In addition, the new rules are not applicable to Surrogate’s Court filings, where Rule 207.64 was added in February 2014 to limit access to Surrogate Court filings to “interested parties.” Those parties are defined as potential beneficiaries of the proceedings, their attorneys and trustees, public administrators and court personnel.
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