What happens if I leave a creditor off my mailing matrix?

Learn about the consequences of failing to list a creditor on your bankruptcy creditor mailing list -- and what to do to fix it.

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Failing to list a creditor on your creditor mailing matrix (also called creditor mailing list) can create significant problems in your bankruptcy case. The seriousness of the problem depends on whether you file a Chapter 7 or 13, whether the debt is secured or unsecured, and whether your Chapter 7 is an asset or no-asset case. Read on to learn why failing to list a creditor on the creditor mailing list can be insignificant or devastating to your financial future.

What Is The Creditor Mailing List?

The mailing matrix (also called creditor mailing list) is an alphabetical list of all your creditors. The court sends notice of your bankruptcy to all persons and entities listed on your mailing list. So it’s important that you list all of your creditors. If a creditor does not receive notice of the filing of your bankruptcy case, the creditor loses the ability to participate in your case.

(Learn more about the Creditor Mailing List in bankruptcy.)

Some people intentionally omit creditors from their mailing list and debts from their bankruptcy schedules. This is a huge no-no. You must sign your petition under penalty of perjury, so, if you intentionally omit a creditor or debt, you are lying to the court.

How Can I Be Sure I’ve Included All of My Creditors on the Mailing List?

Carefully review your mailing matrix and compare it to the creditors you’ve listed on your bankruptcy schedules before you sign and file your bankruptcy petition. Your bankruptcy schedules contain the names and addresses of your creditors, balances due, and other information about your debts. (To learn more about your bankruptcy schedules, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.)

You can also check that you’ve included all of your creditors by reviewing your most recent credit report. (To learn how to get your credit report, see our Credit Reports & Credit Scores area.) But sometimes debts won’t be listed on your credit report, so don’t rely entirely on your credit report when preparing your debt and creditor lists.

What Happens If I Don’t List a Creditor on my Chapter 7 Mailing List?

If you don’t list a creditor in your Chapter 7 case, what happens depends on whether yours is an asset or no-asset bankruptcy.

No-asset cases. Yours is a no-asset case if you don’t have any money that the trustee can distribute to creditors, nor do you have any property or assets that the Chapter 7 trustee can sell to obtain money. In no-asset Chapter 7 cases, an unsecured creditor is prohibited from collecting the debt from you after your discharge. Unsecured creditors do not have to file a proof of claim in a no-asset case. Since no claim is required, your omission hasn’t impaired the creditor's right of payment. However, even if yours is a no-asset case, if you fail to list a secured creditor, the creditor may take legal actions such as repossession or foreclosure to collect the debt after discharge.

Cases with assets. The omission of a creditor is more serious in asset Chapter 7 case with assets. If the creditor has not received notice of the filing of your bankruptcy case, the creditor loses its chance to file a proof of claim and receive any payment from your bankruptcy case. The loss of this right entitles the creditor to collect the money from you after your discharge. It can collect from any of your nonexempt assets.

(See Nolo’s article on the Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy to learn what a proof of claim is, who files one, and more.)

What Happens If I Don’t List a Creditor in My Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

If you fail to include a creditor in your Chapter 13, the creditor will not be notified of your bankruptcy filing and the debt will not be discharged at the conclusion of your case. Listing the debt in your Chapter 13 plan will take care of the repayment of the debt rather than leaving control of repayment to the creditor. Post-discharge collection is a hard pill to swallow after you have worked so hard paying all of your other creditors for the past three to five years and those debts are discharged.

What Can I Do If I Discover That I Have Omitted a Creditor From My Mailing Matrix?

Generally you will be able to add the debt to your bankruptcy case by filing a document with the bankruptcy court that explains your omission, provides all required information about the debt, and states whether or not this additional debt will affect your case. If adding the debt impacts your case, you may need to amend your Chapter 13 plan or your Chapter 7 Statement of Intention.

(Learn how to amend or change your bankruptcy forms after you’ve filed the case.)

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