FTC Staff Issues Financial Privacy Guidance

For Release

Staff of the Federal Trade Commission today issued guidance to help financial institutions under its jurisdiction comply with the agency's consumer privacy regulations.

The Commission's regulations implement the privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (GLB Act) and were issued after interagency consultation and coordination. Financial institutions subject to the Commission's jurisdiction have been required to comply with the FTC Privacy Rule since July 1, 2001.

Eight federal agencies have enforcement authority for the GLB Act. The FTC Privacy Rule is substantially similar to that of the other agencies. In general, the privacy regulations govern the circumstances under which a financial institution must provide a consumer with a notice explaining the institution's privacy policies and practices and provide a consumer with a reasonable opportunity to prevent, or "opt out" of, disclosures of certain information to nonaffiliated third parties.

The staff guidance issued today provides answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQs) covering various aspects of the Privacy Rules, including:

  • Which entities are covered by the Privacy Rules;
  • When financial institutions must deliver privacy and opt-out notices;
  • What limits apply to the use and disclosure of customer information received from an unrelated financial institution;
  • What limits apply to the disclosure of customer account numbers; and
  • How to comply with the exception for disclosures under joint marketing arrangements with an unrelated financial institution.

These FAQs have been developed jointly by FTC staff, in consultation with staff of the federal banking agencies, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Staff may supplement or revise the FAQs as necessary or appropriate in light of further questions and experience.

The FTC will post the FAQs and answers on its GLB Act Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/glbact/index.html.

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 any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2181
Staff Contact:
Loretta H. Garrison
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3224