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FDIC Consumer News - Summer 2002

Important Update: Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage

The FDIC deposit insurance rules have undergone a series of changes starting in the fall of 2008. As a result, certain previously published information related to FDIC insurance coverage may not reflect the current rules. For details about the changes, visit Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage. For more information about FDIC insurance, go to www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html or call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

Privacy Mailings Arriving Again: Toss At Your Own Risk

Here they come again—those privacy notices from your bank and other financial institutions.

The notices, first sent last year under new federal requirements, describe the kinds of personal information these institutions collect about their customers or share with other companies. In some cases, the notices explain your rights to "opt out" or say "no" to certain types of information sharing practices. You cannot opt out of some types of information transfers—such as information shared to process your transactions. However, you must be provided an opportunity to opt out of other types of information sharing, such as if your bank plans to provide names, addresses and other information to a third party that wants to offer a non-financial product.

You should be receiving the privacy notices required to be sent to customers at least once a year. Regarding these annual notices, we recommend the following:

Watch for privacy notices. They may be included with another mailing from your financial institutions, and not as a separate, distinct piece of mail.

Toss at your own risk. Remember that this isn't junk mail. "While the information could be identical to what the institution told you a year ago, it may not be," says Deanna Caldwell, a Senior Policy Analyst with FDIC's Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection. "The institution may be informing you, for example, of a significant change to its information sharing practices that includes a new opportunity to opt out. That's why you should read these mailings carefully."

Tim Burniston, an Associate Director of the Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection, adds: "Your financial information is some of the most sensitive information about you. Take the time to understand what your financial institution is doing with that information, how the institution protects your financial information, and what more, if anything, you must do to protect your private information."

Your financial information is some of the most sensitive information about you. Take the time to understand how your institution protects it and what more you can do.

If you previously told an institution you want to opt out of information sharing, you do not have to renew your wishes. Your instructions remain in effect until you revoke them in writing. However, if you previously opted out but the institution is expanding its information sharing into new areas where you have a right to say no, you would have to opt out again to cover the new practices.

If you did not previously opt out, you can do so now or at any other time. Perhaps you chose not to opt out before but now you've changed your mind. Or, maybe you didn't have a choice previously because your financial institution only shared information you had no right to block, but now the institution is significantly changing its information sharing practices into areas where you have a right to opt out.

Burniston suggests that you "closely follow the instructions provided by the financial institution to be sure your request is honored." For example, if you are instructed to sign the opt-out notice or send it to a particular address, be sure to do so. Burniston also notes that any personal information an institution shares before a customer opts out cannot be retrieved later.

Keep good records. Make a note of when you wrote or called an institution to opt-out. If you provided your instructions to an employee over the phone, jot down that person's name and the time of your call. If you left your information on a recording, make a note of that as well the date and time. These details could, for example, save you from submitting duplicate opt-out instructions or help protect you in case of a dispute about whether you asked to opt out. We also suggest that you keep a copy of an institution's annual privacy notice in your files for at least a year in case you have questions or you want to compare it to a future notice.

For more information about your rights to financial privacy, consider contacting your financial institution or any of the five federal regulators of depository institutions (See "For More Information"). These government agencies and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission also have published a brochure entitled "Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information." To obtain a copy from the FDIC, contact our Public Information Center or read or print the publication on the FDIC's Web site www.fdic.gov/consumers/privacy/privacychoices/index.html.

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Last Updated 08/27/2002 communications@fdic.gov