Comments of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Utility Consumers' Action Network on Proposed Privacy of Consumer Financial Information Regulations (Gramm-Leach Bliley Act)

As our experiences demonstrate, even information sharing among affiliates can be harmful unless consumers receive affirmative notice of the nature of the business that received the information in addition to the nature of the product being marketed. We welcome those provisions in the proposed regulations that require financial institutions to identify the types of businesses engaged in by affiliates and unaffiliated third parties to whom they disclose confidential data. However, we believe that the G-L-B Act and the proposed regulations do not go far enough in protecting unwary consumers from direct marketing by affiliates who may sell products that are more risky than those offered by the financial institution the consumers do business with. The inability of consumers to "opt-out" of data sharing among affiliates exposes consumers to the kinds of marketing abuses suffered by our three elderly UCAN members.

Federal Agencies' Joint Request for Comment: Alternative Forms of Privacy Notices

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) requires financial institutions to give customers annual notice of how personal information is collected and disclosed, and, under limited circumstances, a means for customers to control information flow. The notices delivered to consumers, beginning with the effective date of July 1, 2001, until now have generated substantial criticism from all interested parties. As the ANPR notes, there have been broad-based concerns expressed by representatives of financial institutions, consumers, privacy advocates, and Members of Congress.

In response to numerous concerns expressed by all stakeholders about privacy notices, the FTC convened a workshop in December 2001, just five months after financial institutions were required to send the initial privacy notice to customers. To further address these continuing concerns, the Agencies have published the ANPR. That the Agencies are willing to revisit the issue of clear notice to consumers by considering a short-form notice is an encouraging sign for consumer privacy interests.

2001: The GLB Odyssey -- We're Not There Yet: How Consumers Rial Privacy Notices and Recommendations for Improving Them

Given the complexity and limitations of GLB's privacy provisions, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) undertook a major project to educate consumers about the new law and their right to prevent information sharing. The PRC launched this project with the premise that such an educational program would fill the gap left by questions unanswered from consumers' review of the notices required by GLB. Instead, what we found was that the majority of consumers who contacted us had heard or read media stories about the GLB notices and realized they had ignored the notices that their financial institutions had mailed to them in previous months. Few of the consumers who contacted us had actually noticed or read the notices. They were worried that they had missed the opportunity to prevent the sharing of their customer data with other companies.

Financial Privacy: The Shortcomings of the Federal Financial Services Modernization Act

The new federal law, the Financial Services Modernization Act, enables three industries to affiliate under one corporate roof -- banking, insurance, and securities. The Act requires that banks and financial services provide an "opt-out" for customers to restrict the sale of personal information to third parties. But it gives no ability for customers to restrict the sharing of data between and among affiliates.

Want to Buy a $37 Soda?

Pay with a debit card and that refreshing soda on a hot day may give your wallet chills. Because of the way that most banks process debit card transactions, a $2.00 soda can generate $35 in bank fees. In this alert, we’ll highlight basic steps consumers should take to avoid the pernicious cycle of overdrafts and bank fees

Spring Cleaning Your Personal and Financial Records

Now that tax season is over, many people are wondering which personal and financial records they need to save for tax and other purposes. Some of us are packrats and like to save everything forever. Others can't wait to discard unwanted papers.

So what's the best way to decide whether to save or discard a record? Here are a few tips and information sources to help you decide what records you need to keep and for how long.


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