Federal regulations allow financial institutions, insurance companies, and brokerage firms to share much of your personal information with third parties IF they (1) have explained their privacy policies to you and (2) have given you an opportunity to opt-out of this information sharing. They must tell you their privacy policies when they begin a relationship with you and remind you of their policies once each year.
If you have misplaced or never saw the privacy policies and opt-out instructions of the institutions you deal with, you can simply write the firm a letter.
Below is an outline of a letter you can use to opt out of information sharing with the other financial institutions, insurance companies, and brokerage firms you deal with.
[Your full name]
[Your full street address]
[City, State ZIP]
[Month, Date Year]
[Name of the company]
[City, State ZIP]
Attn: "OPT OUT" Department
Dear Sir or Madam:
Regarding these accounts:
[list your name, the name of each account, and the account number here]
I am asserting my rights under the Financial Services Modernization Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act to "opt out" of the following two uses of my personal information:
You do not have permission to disclose personally identifiable information with your non-affiliated third-party companies or individuals.
You do not have permission to disclose my credit worthiness to any affiliate.
I am further instructing you:
Do not disclose any of my transaction and experience information to any affiliate of yours. Do not disclose any information about me in connection with marketing agreements between you and any other company. Please respond to me in writing stating that you will comply with these instructions. If I have not received a letter within thirty days specifically denying my instructions, I will assume your records have been noted to comply with this letter.
[your signature and date]
Mail your letter in a sealed envelope to each company. Use only your return address (not your Social Security number or account number) on the return envelope.
What can you easily do to protect your privacy? Chris Hoofnagel, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center recommends the following three steps to opt out of certain info sharing. They take about an hour but make a big difference:
Call your phone companies and opt-out of "CPNI" sharing.
Call the National Do-Not-Call Registry, and opt-out of telemarketing for your home and mobile phone numbers. 888.382.1222; for TTY, call 1.866.290.4236. Note that charities, pollsters, and businesses you already deal with making service calls do not have to follow the Registry.
Reduce your junk mail from members of the Direct Marketing Associations (DMA) through their Mail Preference Service.