How to Complete Bankruptcy’s Schedule F: Untangling the Morass of Creditors and Debt Collectors

File Stack and Magnifying GlassASK LEON 

Bankruptcy expert Leon Bayer answers real-life questions.

Dear Leon, 

I’m trying to fill out a set of Chapter 7 bankruptcy schedules for myself.

I am going crazy over how to list my creditors on Schedule F. I have my credit reports for the past few years, and some of the collection agencies that used to be on the reports don’t show up on my latest report. 

Also, my reports list some collection agencies but don’t show who the original creditor was. To top it off, the dates and amounts don’t all match and the account numbers used by some collection agencies don’t match those of the original creditors. What the heck should I do?  This is so confusing. 

Sincerely, 

Sara

Dear Sara,

Welcome to my world.

On Schedule F of your bankruptcy paperwork, you must list all of your unsecured, nonpriority debts. (Learn what an unsecured, nonpriority creditor is and what information is required in Schedule F in Nolo’s article How to Fill Out Schedule F.) But, as you have discovered, figuring out who all those creditors are can be a nightmare.

Here’s how to fill out Schedule F when you are confronted with a big jumble of intimidating information.

Develop a System

First, list each one of your original creditors. If you know that a collection agency is collecting a particular debt right now, you still should list the original creditor, and then separately list the collection agency.

How to Write a Description for Each Debt

When you list an agency, you can note that it is collecting for a particular original creditor. For example, list your credit card debt at the Bank of Boot Hill, and then list the Hired Gun Collection Agency, noting it as the “assignee for the Bank of Boot Hill”.

How to List Debts From Your Credit Report That You Don’t Recognize

If you have some collection agencies that you can’t match up to an original creditor, list them anyway. When you don’t know for whom or what an agency is collecting for, you are still allowed to schedule it. List the debt as “possible claim” or “collector for an original creditor not identified.”

When in Doubt, List It

You won’t get in trouble for over listing. When in doubt, list it and include whatever you know about it.

If you list a collection agency that no longer has the debt, no harm is done to you. But doing so protects you, just in case you are wrong.

Don’t Rely Solely on Your Credit Reports

The key to hammering out a successful Schedule F list of bankruptcy creditors is to list ’em all, with a name and address. Dig deep in all your old papers, looking for creditors.

Your credit reports are a great source of information. But do not rely solely on your credit reports. You might have debts that never made it onto your reports. For example, old landlords, magazine subscriptions, vet bills, medical bills, bounced checks, and home repair services.

-Leon

Leon Bayer is a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney.  He is a partner at Bayer, Wishman & Leotta, a California law firm specializing in bankruptcy.  The opinions and advice in this blog post are from Mr. Bayer alone, and should not be attributed to Nolo.  By answering a question on this blog, Mr. Bayer does not become your lawyer.

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