Privacy notices you receive from banks and other financial companies explain the following:
- What personal financial information the company collects.
- Whether the company intends to share your personal financial information with other companies.
- What you can do, if the company intends to share your personal financial information, to limit some of that sharing.
- How the company protects your personal financial information.
Companies involved in financial activities must send their customers privacy notices, including:
- Banks, savings and loans, and credit unions
- Insurance companies
- Securities and commodities brokerage firms
- Retailers that directly issue their own credit cards (such as department stores or gas stations)
- Mortgage brokers
- Automobile dealerships that extend or arrange financing or leasing
- Check cashers and payday lenders
- Financial advisors and credit counseling services
- Sellers of money orders or travelers checks.
Financial companies share information for many reasons: to offer you more services, to introduce new products, and to profit from the information they have about you. If you like to know about other products and services, you may want your financial company to share your personal financial information; in this case, you don’t need to respond to the privacy notice. If you prefer to limit the promotions you receive or do not want marketers and others to have your personal financial information, you must take some important steps.
First, it is important to read these privacy notices. They explain how the company handles and shares your personal financial information. Keep in mind that not all privacy notices are the same.
Federal privacy laws give you the right to stop (opt out of) some sharing of your personal financial information. These laws balance your right to privacy with financial companies’ need to provide information for normal business purposes. You have the right to opt out of some information sharing with companies that are:
- Part of the same corporate group as your financial company (or affiliates)
- Not part of the same corporate group as your financial company (or non-affiliates).
But you cannot opt out and completely stop the flow of all your personal financial information. The law permits your financial companies to share certain information about you without giving you the right to opt out. Among other things, your financial company can provide to non-affiliates:
- Information about you to firms that help promote and market the company’s own products or products offered under a joint agreement between two financial companies.
- Records of your transactions–such as your loan payments, credit card or debit card purchases, and checking and savings account statements–to firms that provide data processing and mailing services for your company.
- Information about you in response to a court order.
- Your payment history on loans and credit cards to credit bureaus.
Credit bureaus may also sell information about you to lenders and insurers who use the information to decide whether to send you unsolicited offers of credit or insurance. This is known as prescreening. You can opt out of receiving these prescreened offers by calling 1-888-567-8688.
Vincent C. Ragland is owner of PLANS. Mr. Ragland can be reached at (312) 286-6886 and by Email at email@example.com.