I would recommend working closely with your legal department whenever you are releasing customer financial information. You should also become familiar with the Right to Financial Privacy Act (RFPA). This Act mainly applies to Federal agencies and states that "no Government authority may have access to or obtain copies of, the information contained in the financial records of any customer from a financial institution unless the financial records are reasonably described" and
- The customer authorizes access;
- There is an appropriate administrative subpoena or summons;
- There is a qualified search warrant;
- There is an appropriate judicial subpoena; or
- There is an appropriate written request from an authorized government authority.
There are also several exceptions mentioned in this Act - most importantly, financial institutions and their employees have complete immunity from civil liability for the reporting of known or suspected criminal offenses or suspicious activity by filing a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) with FinCEN.
First published on BankersOnline.com 2/21/05