What you may think is "junk" mail, could be an important notice about your privacy rights. Financial services companies, including banks, loan companies, credit card companies and the like, sometimes send "opt-out" or privacy notices in the mail. *These notices give you an opportunity to say "no" to allowing your financial institution to share or sell certain personal information about you to other companies and marketing firms.
All companies in the financial services industry are required to inform their customers of their privacy rights, including the kinds of information collected and the types of businesses they share it with. They are also required to provide clear instructions on how you can opt-out of this information-sharing arrangement.
Opting out will not completely bar the company from sharing your personal information with outside sources if the information is needed to conduct normal business, or if it is already publicly available through the phone book, county records, or department of motor vehicles.
What happens if you do nothing?
If you do not complete the opt-out form and mail it in, you are choosing NOT to opt-out and business will go on as usual. Most people who choose to opt-out, do so in order to reduce the amount of "junk" mail and telemarketing calls they receive as a result of information sharing. On the other hand, others enjoy receiving catalogues, coupons and information about new products and services as they come on the market. It all depends on your perspective.
You can opt-out anytime.
You can choose to opt-out at any time. Financial institutions are required to send you opt-out information once a year, but you can contact the company at any time and ask about their opt-out process. However, be aware that an opt-out request only affects the sharing of information from that point onward. Companies are not required to contact the organizations that have already received your information prior to your request.
It's your decision - and your responsibility.
The privacy law helps protect your financial privacy and gives you a choice about sharing your information. Now it's up to you to take advantage of your rights.
* In Minnesota, insurance companies and agents are already prohibited from sharing your information unless they have your consent.