WASHINGTON - The Clinton administration on Wednesday invited public comment on how to protect the privacy of sensitive financial information such as credit card, bank account, and Social Security numbers in bankruptcy cases.

Federal regulators are examining the issue as part of the White House's push for tougher laws to safeguard consumer financial and medical records.

Specifically, the Justice Department, Treasury Department, and Office of Management and Budget are conducting a study about the conflict between the privacy interests of debtors in personal bankruptcy filings and the need for publicly available information on these cases.

People filing for bankruptcy must include significant personal financial data to support their claims, and the administration says that computers and online databases have made that information widely available to scam artists, employers, and others.

The need for limits on disclosures by bankruptcy trustees will be examined.

Input is being sought, too, on the recent controversy over whether companies in business bankruptcy filing should be able to sell personal data on their former customers.

Comments are due Sept.8.

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