Claim: The four major U.S. credit bureaus will be allowed to share your private information with anyone who requests it as of
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
Just wanted to let everyone know who hasn’t already heard, the four major credit bureaus in the US. will be allowed, starting
Origins: There is truth in the issue which seems to be uppermost in the minds of most of those who receive this message — that is, whether the phone number provided above is valid for the stated purpose or whether it’s some sort of information-collecting scam. The phone number listed
However, it is not true that consumers must call this number before
Contrary to the text of the dire warning quoted above, credit bureaus cannot sell your
Credit bureaus can, however, create lists containing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of consumers with good credit and sell them to telemarketers and
What did change back in 2001 was that due to the implementation of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act) the banking, insurance, and securities industries were allowed to operate under the same corporate affiliation. (This act set aside legislation passed during the Depression era, which had created legal barriers to prevent mergers between banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms, and other financial institutions.) Because of consumers’ concerns that new financial conglomerates allowed under this legislation might pool their resources to compile huge databases of sensitive customer information and share them with third parties, Congress added a provision to the act requiring that all financial service companies send privacy notices providing a “reasonable opportunity” for their customers to opt out of this information-sharing by
- Unlike credit bureaus, financial institutions can share your private information with third parties by default. In order to stop this sharing, you must specifically invoke your “opt-out” privileges to request that they not do it.
- Privacy notices had to be sent to customers by
1 July2001, but there is no deadline by which customers must respond. Your right to “opt out” of the information-sharing process is ongoing and may be invoked at any time.
- Most importantly, you must contact every financial institution with which you do business to completely “opt out” of the information-sharing process. The phone number given in the message quoted above
(1-888-5OPTOUT)applies only to credit bureaus. Calling this number will not affect the ability of any banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, brokerage firms, or any other financial institutions with which you do (or have done) business from sharing your information.
The bottom line is that laws regarding the selling of personal information by financial institutions have become more stringent recently, not less. The changes may not have made the laws as stringent as we’d like them to be, but at least they’re a step in the right direction, not the scare stories these messages make them out to be.
|Consumer Credit File Privacy: The Real Deal (Federal Trade Commission)|
|Protecting Financial Privacy (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)|
|E-mail Sends Wrong Message (Associated Credit Bureaus)|
Last updated: 3 December 2007