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Opt Out, Opt In

In the movie The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi's mantra was “Wax on, Wax off.” This was the mundane way that he taught young Daniel to protect himself. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go rent the video. You will enjoy it. In the world of the security of your personal financial information, the mantra is “Opt in, Opt out.” When the comprehensive Financial Services Modernization Act was being debated in Congress, the issue of whether consumers should be required to affirmatively opt out of having their personal information shared or whether they should be required to opt in if they wanted their personal information shared was hotly debated. Ultimately the final score on this matter was Big Bad Financial Institutions 2 (I guess you know where I stand), Consumers 0. Not only did Congress drastically limit the circumstances in which we could prevent the sharing of our personal information, but it also, in the ultimate caving-in to the Big Bad Financial Institutions, required us to take affirmative steps to prevent the sharing of our personal information. So much for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But let's look at this dirty glass as half-full instead of half-empty and consider how you can opt out of information sharing. If you have neglected to take this step and opt out in order to protect yourself from identity theft and reduce the amount of annoying marketing junk mail you receive, you can still exercise your limited right to opt out of information sharing by sending a letter to the various financial institutions with which you deal requesting that they not share your personal information. A copy of a form letter to opt out is included in Chapter 15, “Form Letters.” Generally, the disclosure that you receive from the financial companies with which you do business allows you to exercise your limited right to opt out of information sharing either through a letter or form sent back to them, by way of a toll-free telephone call, or through the Internet, if that is how you normally do business with that particular company.


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