04
Jan 17
Your Rights to Financial Privacy: How to Stay Informed

Your Rights to Financial Privacy: How to Stay Informed

You’re probably used to receiving privacy notices from your financial institutions explaining how they handle and share your personal information. Federal law requires that you receive a notification about your privacy rights when you open an account, then at least annually, and again if the institution changes its privacy policy. And, in some cases, these privacy statements are available for review at any time online. Unfortunately, many consumers don’t review these disclosures, which describe how your information will be used, whether you can choose to “opt out” or say “no” to sharing your personal financial information, and how you can do so.

“The privacy notices include important descriptions of rights you may have to limit information sharing with other parts of the same company as well as with unaffiliated companies,” said Beverly Shuck, Acting Chief of the FDIC’s Consumer Response Center. “If you want to control information sharing, you should take these mailings seriously.”

The privacy notices also will explain what you can’t prevent from being shared. This is likely to include customer information provided to outside firms that market your financial company’s own products, handle data processing services or mail out monthly statements to customers. Banks that limit their sharing to these circumstances will provide a privacy notice stating that, as well as the fact that the customers don’t have the right to opt out of any data sharing.

In October 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) adopted a rule 
that allows financial institutions that do not engage in certain types of information-sharing to post their annual privacy notices online rather than delivering them individually. In these circumstances, consumers also must be able to call a toll-free number to request a paper copy of the privacy disclosure.

Contact your financial institution if you have questions or concerns about its privacy policy. If you’re not satisfied with the answers, you may wish to contact the institution’s primary federal or state regulator. To find out who regulates a financial institution (the FDIC is not the primary regulator for all of the institutions it insures), you can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342).

“Remember that privacy practices differ at various financial institutions,” said Ed Nygard, a Senior Consumer Affairs Specialist at the FDIC. “If you are uncomfortable with the way your information will be treated at one institution, you may wish to shop around for a different one.”

You also have the right to prohibit credit bureaus from providing information about you to lenders and insurers that want to send you unsolicited offers of credit or insurance. To remove yourself from marketing lists sold by credit bureaus, call toll-free 1-888-567-8688 or go to www.optoutprescreen.com.

For more information from the FDIC, see “Privacy Choices” at www.fdic.gov/consumers/privacy/privacychoices.