The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about an anonymous e-mail that’s full of false and misleading information about the use of their personal information. The e-mail has been widely distributed for the past three years, around this time each year.
The bogus e-mail reads: “Just wanted to let everyone know who hasn’t already heard, the four major credit bureaus in the U.S. will be allowed, starting July 1, to release your credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers... to anyone who requests it. If you would like to “opt out” of this release of info., you can call 1- 888-567-8688. It only takes a couple of minutes to do.”
The FTC’s Consumer Alert, “Bogus July 1 E-mail Exposed”
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt096.htm, sets the record straight by informing readers that:
- There is no July 1 deadline for you to act to prevent the credit bureaus from releasing their credit information. By law, credit bureaus can release your credit information only to people with a legitimate business need.
- Lenders and insurers may use information in your credit file as a basis for sending you unsolicited offers – a practice known as “prescreening.” However, you have the right to opt out of these offers by calling, toll-free: 1-888-567-8688. The major credit bureaus use that number only to enable consumers to opt out of “prescreened” offers.
- You also have the right, in most cases, to prevent financial institutions from sharing your personal information with unaffiliated third parties. Each year, financial institutions must send a notice to their customers telling them how they use customers’ information and what opt-out rights the customer has.
To learn more about privacy issues, visit http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/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 consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. 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.