Federal Agencies Release Consumer Privacy Guides

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Several federal agencies released guides yesterday to help consumers decide whether to allow personal financial information to be shared.


The guides, released in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, deal with the choices consumers face resulting from the privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.


Federal privacy laws give consumers the right to prevent, or opt out of, some sharing of their personal financial information. These laws balance consumers' right to privacy with financial companies' need to provide information for normal business purposes.


The guides will explain the privacy notices that consumers receive from their banks and other financial companies, what choices consumers face, and consumers' right to opt out of information sharing.


The material encourages consumers to do the following:


• Read all privacy notices.


• Get answers to questions from the financial companies that provided the notices.


• Decide whether to opt out.


• If opting out, follow the instructions in the notice and, if necessary, shop around for a financial institution with the privacy policy they want.


Agencies involved include the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of the Thrift Supervision and the Securities and Exchange Commission.


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