Financial Privacy Rights 101

These days it seems like everyone’s information is just out there for everyone else to see. With a simple web search, you can literally find a phone number, address and other personal information without even having to be a computer expert. With all this information at the finger tips what does it mean for your financial information? Fortunately, the United States government has passed laws to protect this information.

In a response to a Supreme Court ruling in the 1970’s that bank information was not legally something that had to stay private, the United States government passed the Right to Financial Privacy Act. This act states that no financial institution is allowed to reveal any financial information to the government unless the records being requested are being used as evidence in a criminal proceeding.

Section 3404 of the document talks about the rights of the consumer when it comes to financial information being disclosed. The only way that your financial information can be disclosed ,other than suspected of illegal activity, is if you give written consent to do so. Even in this case, the information can only be shared for a period of 90 days and the consumer has the right to revoke the consent at any time.

What about your rights when it comes to third parties, or other companies who might want your information? The Gramm-Leach Act gives consumers protections from financial institutions selling or distributing your financial information to other companies without notice. Also, a consumer has the right to opt-out from any distribution of information that a financial institution would be interested in doing.

In plain English, this act says that your local bank cannot give a telemarketer your information, or send out your financial information to another business for marketing purposes. If your bank is going to do this, they have to ask for your permission, and you have the option of telling the bank not to do this. The only exception to the rule is if an outside company is helping your bank market its own products and services.

When it comes to financial privacy, there is nothing that should be taken lightly, or for granted. Fortunately, the Right to Financial Privacy Act and the Gramm-Leach Act provide good protections for consumers and their financial information. Remember that you have a right to determine who sees any information you have, so exercise that right if you are ever uncomfortable with who may see your information.