If you have ever had a business relationship with a financial institution, you should know that they have access to a variety of your personal information. You may not realize that they can, without your permission, disclose this information to their “affiliates” and non-affiliated third parties. Additionally, they can change their disclosure policies at any time. Here is a typical financial institution privacy notice, which outlines what type of information they collect and disclose to others. They make it your obligation to “opt out” of disclosure. They also make it your problem to figure out and provide your account numbers. So, if you have a checking account, savings account, and a CD, you must provide account numbers for all three, to prevent disclosure of your personal information. Although they do freely provide your personal information to their other business units and affiliates, if you are a customer of one of these units or affiliates, you are on your own to separately contact them to “opt out” of disclosure.
Clearly, the rules make it easy for financial institutions to monetize your personal information and difficult for you to prevent disclosure of your personal information. What’s wrong with this picture? Isn’t it time to change our privacy laws to require explicit permission to release your personal information? For your privacy, you should demand that your elected officials enact “opt in” privacy laws.