July 2001 Press
For Immediate Release Contact: Martha Trombley
Markowitz Warns Vermonters to Check The Mail...Your Privacy Depends On It.
Markowitz said "most people I have spoken with remember getting privacy notices in the mail - but threw them out, thinking they were junk mail. Reading the fine print and calling an 800 number may take some time, but if you want to keep your personal financial information private it is time well spent." Vermonters are not alone. Statistics show that so far less than 1% of all people have responded to their privacy notices by asking for their personal information to be kept private.
According to Markowitz, Vermont is still ahead of the pack with protecting our privacy. "Unlike most states Vermont enacted its own privacy law in 1994 that prohibits banks from sharing personal information without getting permission from the customer," said Markowitz, "and the department of Banking and Insurance is working on rules that would place similar opt-in requirements on securities firms and insurance companies."
Markowitz warns Vermonters, until the Vermont rules are in place "doing nothing when you get these notices may mean that you have given companies permission to share, sell or market your personal information." Information that can be shared can include personal income, credit card spending habits, social security numbers, account balances and more. In addition, it is important to know that even if a person requests that their personal information not be shared, the new federal law will still allow affiliated companies (insurance companies, credit card providers, securities firms and banks who have a legal association) to share information. This information enables the companies to cross-market services and products.
Markowitz said, "In today's high-tech world, our personal privacy is of great importance. The opportunity to protect it should not be thrown away!"