Credit Sharing Information From Your Bank

If you've used a credit card or applied for a loan, you've shared your life, your personal information.

By law banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions have to tell you if they're sharing or selling your information. So now, they are sending millions of notices out in the mail which should arrive at your home before July 1. They'll be tucked inside your credit card bills or other financial statements.

The notices explain the company privacy policy and give you an option to not have your information shared with other parties.

The Fine Print

But many people are complaining that the pages and pages of text are not that easy to read. Consumer Tim Muck says "I wish I had the time to read them, but I don't feel like I have the time."

Emilie Castle, who has received her privacy notice, explains "it's [written in] small print. It's some little pamphlet type thing that you push to the side and don't really pay attention to."

"When I talk to people about notices they may have received, my sense is they don't understand them," says Charles Harwood of the Federal Trade Commission. "Often times they ignore them, they throw them away," he adds.

But if you ignore the notices your financial institution may end up sharing your information with outside companies. Except for Bank of America. "[Our customers] don't have to opt out, they don't have to send anything in. Their information will not be shared," assures Bank of America spokesman Todd Rosin.

Bottom Line

Even so, any bank can still share your information internally — with brokers or insurance affiliates, for example.

"If [people] only opt out once, banks may be still able to share information with a sister facility or a related institution," warns Harwood.

The bottom line is this: Watch for the notices, read them carefully and find out exactly who may be seeing your private information.

Each institution might have different ways of opting out of sharing your information with others. Depending on the company, you may have to write the institution directly, or call them. Your privacy depends on what you do.

Eileen Frere, of ABCNEWS affiliate KOMO in Seattle, contributed to this report.

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