Companies involved in financial activities must provide their customers with privacy notices. These companies include: banking institutions; insurance companies; mortgage brokers; retailers that issue their own credit cards (such as department stores and gas stations); automobile dealerships that extend financing; check cashers and payday lenders; financial advisors and credit counseling services.
The privacy rule governs when and how companies may share nonpublic personal information about their customers with non-affiliated third parties. If you prefer to limit the promotions you receive or do not want marketers and others to have your personal financial information, you must take action. Read the privacy notices you receive. They explain how the company handles and shares your information.
What Can You Stop – and What Can't You Stop?
Federal privacy law gives you the right to stop (opt out of) some sharing of your personal financial information. Certain information about you can be shared without giving you the right to opt out.
Your financial company can provide to non-affiliates: information about you that helps promote and market the company's own products; records of your account activity and balances to firms that provide data processing and mailing services for your company; information about you in response to a court order; and your payment history on loans and other transactions to credit bureaus.
What Opting Out Means
If you opt out, you limit the extent to which the company can provide your personal financial information to non-affiliates. If you do not opt out within a reasonable period of time, the company is free to share certain personal financial information.
If you didn't opt out the first time you received a privacy notice, it's not too late. You can always change your mind. Contact your financial company and ask for instructions on how to opt out. Keep in mind, any personal financial information shared before you opted out cannot be retrieved.
Your Right to Opt Out
A privacy notice contains information about the company's data collection and information sharing policies. If a financial company does not plan to share your information except as permitted by law, the notice will tell you this; in this case, you don't have a right to opt out.
If you have the right to opt out, the privacy notice will include instructions on how to stop the sharing of certain information. Unless you opt out, your financial company can provide your personal financial information (for example, the kinds of stores you shop at, how much you borrow, your account balances, or the dollar value of your assets) to non-affiliates for marketing and other purposes.
The privacy notice may also give you the right to opt out of certain information sharing with affiliates. For example, personal information from your credit report or loan application. Companies can, however, share information about you with affiliates when the information is based solely on your transactions with that company (for example, whether you pay your bills on time, and the type of accounts you have with the company). Read your notices carefully to see what applies.