All too often, self-represented individuals (and even some attorneys) file court documents using the full names of minor children, social security numbers, dates of birth and bank account numbers. Keep in mind that most documents filed with the courts are public record. This means that other people, not just the judges or court personnel, can access the documents that have been filed in your case. With regard to documents filed with the court, Montana law states:
Unless the court orders or the law requires otherwise, in any filing with the court that contains an individual’s social security number, taxpayer identification number, or birth date, or a financial account number, a party or nonparty making the filing must include only:
- the last four digits of the social security number or taxpayer identification number;
- the year of the individual’s birth; and
- the last four digits of the financial account number.
See Montana Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5. Accordingly, sensitive data and private information should not be filed or included in a case record, unless specific steps have been taken to preserve privacy.