Consumers' Financial Privacy Act Testimony

I am Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. We are one of 15 consumer groups supporting Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl's AB 1707. The two most critically important provisions of this bill are the disclosure requirement and the opt-in standard for the sharing of customer information with company affiliates and third parties.

I will make five points this afternoon, regarding: change, fraud, privacy, consumer benefits, and business costs.

New Privacy Rights May Be Buried in "Junk" Mail

Now is not the time to toss junk mail and ignore inserts in your bank and credit card statements. "Watch your mail!" says Tena Friery, research director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Because of a new federal law, financial institutions are now mailing notices to consumers containing important information about their privacy rights. "Failure to pay attention to these privacy notices may result in sensitive financial data being sold to other companies for marketing and other purposes," warns Friery.

Comments on FACTA Disposal Rule, RIN 3064-AC77: Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act Disposal of Consumer Report Information and Records

Irresponsible handling of sensitive consumer data has long been cited as a contributing factor to identity theft. A practice known as "dumpster diving" is often claimed by thieves themselves as the source of the data that allowed them to commit the crime. Sensitive data discarded by a financial institution provides a prime opportunity for a crook to access another's personal data.

By enacting §216 requiring proper disposal of consumer information, Congress has given the public one of the strongest tools yet in combating the growing crime of identity theft. It is now up to the financial regulators and the FTC to carry out Congress' intent by adopting strong regulations to ensure identity theft is no longer fed by careless and irresponsible disposal of confidential consumer data.

Financial Privacy Notices: Do They Really Want You to Know What They're Saying?

"Because we value your privacy.. we may sell your personal financial information." Does this make sense? Of course, not. But, that is precisely the message many banks and other financial companies are now sending to their customers. However, this message -- blurred by fine print, big words, long sentences and marketing jargon -- is far from clear.

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.

"Consumers have a continuing right to opt-out," said Tena Friery, Research Director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. "This applies even if notices have been lost or, as is quite common, mistaken for "junk mail" and thrown in the trash."

Financial Privacy Notices: Shorter is Better

For business, the goal should be not only to provide a notice that satisfies the legal requirement, but one that consumers can easily understand. Although practices may vary from company to company, the bottom line is always the same: Companies either share information with affiliates and third parties or not. Consumers either have the right to opt-out or they don't.

RV Full-timing and Privacy Protection (Dippel)

If you really want to go “underground” and avoid junk mailers, living in an RV can help you achieve almost invisible status. Once you live in an RV (and have sold your home), you will no longer be listed on a property tax web site, for all junk mailers to see and to come after you!  Further, you will no longer need accounts with utility companies, as RV parks provide the utilities.


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