Sunday, October 22, 2000

Rules being made for sharing financial data

By Marcy Gordon
The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON — Federal regulators are seeking public comment on rules spelling out how banks, brokerages and insurers under the same corporate roof must give customers the right to block them from sharing personal financial data.

        An example: banks would not be able to deny consumers credit or charge them higher interest because they asked for their data not to be shared.

        The new rules were published Friday by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. The latter two agencies are within the Treasury Department.

        Comments from the public are due by Dec. 4.

        “You have a very limited right to privacy” under the new rules, said Edmund Mierzwinski, consumer program director for Public Interest Research Group. Still, he added, “I would strongly encourage all consumers to take advantage” of their right to request that certain kinds of data not be shared.

        These include credit history, income information, employment history and marital status — in general, all data related to a consumer's creditworthiness, available credit, character, general reputation, personal characteristics or mode of living, the four agencies said jointly.

        Under the proposed rules, financial companies wishing to share such information with affiliated firms must first give consumers a notice telling them of their right to block such sharing by written request. They also would be required to give consumers “a reasonable opportunity and convenient means to exercise this right,” the agencies said.

        Send comments to Mary M. West, Federal Reserve Board Clearance Officer, Mailstop 97, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, D.C. 20551.


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