July 1st Privacy Notice Deadline is For Banks, Not Customers

Financial institutions have until July 1, 2001, to send privacy notices to their customers. The notices are required by the Financial Services Modernization Act, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act or GLB.


"We are getting many inquiries from consumers who are confused about the July 1 deadline," said Tena Friery, Research Director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. "Consumers have a continuing right to opt-out," Friery said. "This applies even if notices have been lost or, as is quite common, mistaken for "junk mail" and thrown in the trash."


If consumers no longer have the notice, they should contact their financial institution and ask for a copy of the company's privacy policy. The policy should tell consumers the procedure to follow to opt-out -- that is say "no" if the company says it sells, leases, or otherwise discloses information to outside companies (called third party non-affiliates in the notices).


Consumers will also find several versions of sample letters that can be used to opt-out. To assist consumers who want to opt-out but don't have their company's privacy notice any more, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has posted a list of several companies' opt-out addresses or toll free telephone numbers.


"We want to thank everyone who helped us compile this list by sending us a copy of privacy notices," said Friery. To make the list as helpful as possible, the PRC is continuing to ask consumers to send copies of privacy notices for companies that do not appear on the list. Consumers who believe the federal law should strengthened to protect consumer privacy can visit the web site www.privacyrightsnow.com. It provides a sample letter to send to their representative in Congress.