San Mateo Co. (California) Board of Supervisors Unanimously Adopts Financial Information Privacy Ordinance

Redwood City - The Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted an ordinance today to protect consumers' financial information privacy. With this ordinance, San Mateo County has become the first jurisdiction in California to provide consumers privacy protections in excess of those found in federal law, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This ordinance would require financial institutions to ask for and receive consumerís permission before disclosing consumerís confidential information to third parties.

Financial Literacy and Education Campaign Strategies

Financial literacy should start early. Fundamental concepts such as the need for savings should be started in elementary school and be carried through the educational process.

Unfortunately, dysfunctional concepts such as “easy credit” are often instilled as college-age students are lured with multiple credit card offers and as television advertisements portray “the good life” as being fueled with credit card accounts. With the average household credit card indebtedness estimated at $9,000, these messages need to be countered early on with education about the responsible uses of credit.

Confusing E-Mail about Opt-Out Number Sends the Wrong Message

An unknown individual has broadcast an electronic mail message that has reached tens of thousands of consumers, confusing them with information that is only half correct.

The message explains, erroneously, that as of July 1, 2003, "the four major credit bureaus in the US will be allowed . to release your credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers..... to anyone who requests it." This is not correct.

Groups Submit Comments to National Banks Agency Opposing Preemption of States

The OCC's proposed revisions to 12 CFR Parts 7 and 34 of its regulations identify certain types of state laws that would be preempted for non-real estate loans made by national banks.

The scope of the OCC's proposal potentially affects consumer protection and privacy laws of many states. However, we limit our comments to the potential impact on California laws. Particularly troubling is the uncertain implication of the OCC's rulemaking for important identity theft laws that involve access to, and use of, credit reports. Of equal concern is the OCC's proposed regulation to preempt state laws that require national banks to give mandated statements to be included in billing or credit related documents.

Consumers' Concerns about Financial Privacy and Security

I have been asked by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to present an overview of consumers' concerns about financial privacy and security. I think the best way for me to do that is to tell you about some of the cases that have come to my attention from people calling our hotline or sending e-mail messages.

North Dakota Votes for "Opt-In" Financial Privacy

On June 11, 2002, voters in North Dakota spoke overwhelmingly in favor of financial privacy. A referendum which would prohibit banks from sharing, selling or otherwise disclosing personal financial information succeeded by a majority of three to one. This confirms what polls have been telling us for years. Consumers feel strongly about privacy, particularly when it comes to the sensitive information in bank records.

Interagency Proposal for Model Privacy Form under the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC)1 is pleased to comment on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR)2 to simplify the consumer disclosures required by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLB”). With only a few minor suggestions, the PRC endorses and fully supports the model form adopted by the agencies. We direct our comments as follows:

Letter to California Legislators and Governor Gray Davis by 15 Consumer-related Organizations in Favor of Strong Opt-in Financial Privacy Legislation

The undersigned organizations urge your support of legislation giving customers of financial institutions stronger rights of privacy over their customer information.

This is a critical time for California consumers. In 1999 Congress passed and the President signed the Financial Services Modernization Bill. This far-reaching law enables banks to become affiliated with insurance companies and brokerage firms. This law contains only the weakest of customer privacy provisions - requiring financial institutions to provide customers an opt-out opportunity before selling customer data to unaffiliated third parties.1

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.


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