Privacy Notices and Third Party Sharing

Regardless of whether you’re a first-time investor or you’ve been playing the stock market for years, the first thing that almost every financial advisor will tell you to do is to take control over your own financial situation. That’s because being in ignorance of things like your credit score, your interest rates on existing loans, or how your financial information is being shared can have a big impact on how you save and invest.

One of the most often overlooked issues is how your financial and personal information is being used. Most banks, lenders, credit card companies, and financial institutions have some sort of Privacy Policy in place that allows them to share your information to third parties. It is up to you to determine whether or not you want this information shared and to notify the financial organizations accordingly. What Are Privacy Notices?

The majority of people rarely look at the letters they get in the mail from banks, credit card companies, and other financial companies (like your mortgage lender). It seems like these companies are always sending something, whether it’s a great new deal they want you to take advantage of, an update to your account, or notifications of changes to your policy or account.

However, it’s important to take a good look at the information you’re being sent. If you get something with a Privacy Notice on it, your financial institution is basically notifying you that they will be “selling” your information to third parties. When this happens, your personal contact info, including your name, address, email address, and sometimes even your financial records, are shared with an outside company. It typically results in you getting more mail, more email, and more phone calls from marketers trying to sell you their wares.

What to Do About Privacy Notices

Federal privacy laws allow you to control how your personal contact information is disbursed to outside entities, but only if you take proactive steps to avoid it. Financial institutions are required to send out Privacy Notices, which tell you how your information may be used. It is your responsibility to read the Privacy Notice and send a letter informing the company that you wish to opt out, typically within 30 days of receiving the notice.

Of course, this won’t keep all of your information in a tightly-sealed drum. Financial companies can still use your information in ways that fall in line with regular business, to share records of your payment history (for credit scoring purposes, for example), or to courtrooms if your financial information is needed for legal purposes.

Taking Financial Control

In most cases, having your financial information shared with third parties without your approval is an annoyance rather than a catastrophe. However, by taking the initiative and controlling how your information is used, you’re taking an important first step in controlling your finances as a whole.

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