Bogus July 1
Email Exposed: The Real Deal on Your Credit File Privacy
An anonymous email containing false and
misleading information about the use of your personal information is
showing up in email in-boxes across the country, leaving many
consumers concerned and confused.
Here's what the bogus email says:
"Just wanted to let everyone know who
hasn't already heard, the four major credit bureaus in the U.S. will be
allowed, starting July 1, to release your credit info, mailing addresses,
phone numbers... to anyone who requests it. If you would like to "opt out"
of this release of info., you can call 1-888-567-8688. It only takes a
couple of minutes to do."
Here's the real deal from the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC), the agency that enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
- The July 1 deadline relates to the
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB), which set July 1, 2001 as the deadline
for financial institutions to give you notice of their privacy
policies and a way for you to opt-out of some of their
information-sharing practices. You may recall getting mailings or
statement inserts recently from your financial institutions,
creditors, insurance companies and brokerage firms about this. The
July 1 date is not a deadline for consumers to do anything. In fact,
consumers can contact their financial institutions anytime to
opt-out under GLB.
- Credit bureaus can release your
credit information only to people with a legitimate business need,
as recognized by the FCRA. For example, a company is allowed to get
your report if you apply for credit, insurance, employment, or to
rent an apartment.
- In addition to the uses described
above, lenders and insurers may use information in your credit file
as a basis for sending you unsolicited offers of credit or
insurance. This is known as "prescreening." However, you have a
right to opt out of these offers. The toll-free number -
1-888-567-8688 - is the "opt-out" line for the major credit bureaus
for "prescreened" offers only.
For More Information
To learn more about your privacy rights under the FCRA and GLB, contact
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR THE CONSUMER