Information available through VCIS (Voice Case Information System)
The bankruptcy courts have initiated various methods of using technology to increase accessibility to their records. These programs save time and reduce costs for the courts as well as the consumer. Information may be obtained any time of the day or night. Most of the bankruptcy courts use PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). However, many courts also offer VCIS (Voice Case Information System) in addition to PACER. VCIS uses a computer-synthesized voice device to read case and adversary proceeding information directly from the court’s computer. This permits users to call the computer from any touch-tone telephone and to obtain the following case information without assistance from a deputy clerk:
- Case number.
- Name(s) of debtor(s) or parties.
- Social Security number or tax identification number.
- Case filing date.
- Case chapter.
- Conversion date, if any.
- Name and telephone number of the debtor’s attorney.
- Trustee’s name.
- Assigned judge’s name.
- Discharge and closing dates.
- Case status.
- Case assets.
A touch-tone telephone is the only equipment needed to access VCIS.
How VCIS Works
VCIS searches for cases by participant name and reads the information available to matching bankruptcy cases. Data is posted to the VCIS database at the close of each business day. Information typically will appear in VCIS the business day following its entry in the court’s records. New cases typically appear in VCIS the second business day after filing. Cases filed prior to 1990 may not be available on the system. The system provides case information for five participants or cases per call.
Most courts have a time period (usually between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.) when the system is being updated and is not available. Except for this time period, VCIS is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
There is no charge to use VCIS, except for the cost of the telephone call.
VCIS is easy to use. To access it, call the VCIS number listed under the clerk’s office for the appropriate court. To hear instructions on how to use VCIS, press “1” at the prompt. A computer-synthesized voice will read instructions for obtaining case information. You may search the VCIS database by name, case number, social security number or tax ID number. The system will prompt you with instructions on when to input your data. For example, to search the database by name, press “2” at the prompt. Or, to search the database by case number, press “3” at the prompt. When searching by name, enter the name by pressing the telephone keys that correspond to the letters of the name:
|ABC – 2||DEF – 3||GHI – 4|
|JKL – 5||MNO – 6||PRS – 7|
|TUV – 8||WXY – 9||Q and Z – 1|
Do not include spaces between names, and do not include punctuation or characters (such as apostrophes and dashes) that are not letters. Enter the individual’s surname first and then the first name. Do not include initials or middle names. For example, to locate JOE SMITH, press the following keys (followed by the # sign): 7 6 4 8 4 5 6 3 # (S M I T H J O E) If there is more than one case with Joe Smith as a debtor, the computer will list them and give you the opportunity to choose the case you wish. To go through the list, press the “5” key. To enter the name of a company, omit suffixes such as Inc., Corp. or Co. and do not include punctuation or characters (such as apostrophes and dashes). If the company’s name is the name of an individual (Joe Smith’s Bar, Inc.), do not use the surname first. For example, to locate JOE SMITH’S BAR, INC., press the following keys (followed by the # sign): 5 6 3 7 6 4 8 4 7 2 2 7 # (J O E S M I T H S B A R) VCIS will search the database for participants with names or numbers matching the one entered. When one is found, VCIS will read the information pertaining to that case. If the database contains more than five names or numbers matching the one entered, VCIS will not read the available information for matching cases. If this occurs, call the court. If the database contains fewer than five names or numbers matching the one entered, VCIS will tell you the number of matching cases in the database and will instruct you to choose the applicable case. If VCIS finds two to ten cases with the applicable name or number, it will read the available information for all matching cases. If the case being read is not the case you want, press the “5” key to skip to the next case. You may do this while VCIS is reading or after it has read all the information for a case. If you do not wish to hear information for additional matching cases, hang up. If the case you are interested in is not one of the matching cases listed, try again or call the clerk’s office for assistance. If 11 or more cases are found, VCIS will say that too many cases have been selected and read information for the first ten matching cases only. To hear information for the next matching case, press the “5” key. To skip the remaining cases, press the “3” key. You may do this while VCIS is reading or after it has read all the available information for a case. If you do not wish to hear information for additional matching cases, hang up. If the case you are interested in is not one of the matching cases listed, call the clerk’s office for assistance. If the database contains no names or numbers matching the one entered, VCIS will say that no cases for that name are on the computer. You may enter up to five names in one search. After reading the information available for the matching case or cases, or after telling you no cases for that name or number are on the computer, VCIS will disconnect you.