Banks Can Sell Your Personal Shopping Habits: You Can Stop Them
By Consumers Union on Thursday, July 7th, 2011
By David Chircrop
The nation’s largest financial institutions, including Wells Fargo, Citi and Discover, are taking a closer look at their customers’ most personal information – how much they spend, where they shop and what they buy – and they are selling that information to retailers, according to CNNMoney. The law allows banks to sell or “share” this sensitive personal information without their customers’ permission. Cheerleaders of this creepy practice are selling it as a benefit to consumers. They are notably silent, however, on whether consumers want businesses pouring over their personal financial data, without their knowledge or consent.
Here’s how it works: Say you use your Citi-issued debit card to buy a pair of shoes at Nordstrom, and then Citi sells that information to a series of retailers. As a result, you receive a coupon from Macy’s for a 20 percent discount on shoes at its store. The coupon is delivered by Citi, however, not from Macy’s. To redeem the coupon, you must respond by text, e-mail or by checking off a box next to the offer on your online bank statement. Once you go into Macy’s to buy the shoes, Citi will retroactively credit your account for the 20 percent discount.
Protect Your Financial Privacy and Opt Out
Consumers who want their personal information kept private can limit who their banks share their personal information. To exercise this right, they must “opt out” or specifically ask their bank or credit card company not to share their personal information with nonaffiliated third parties. Contact your bank or credit card company to learn how you can protect your financial privacy. More info: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Protecting Personal Financial Privacy
Online: www.citi.com, sign on and go to, “Service Center” and select the option to “Submit Your Privacy Choices.” You can only establish your choices once through Citibank Online. If you are trying to change selections made previously you will need to call Customer Service or visit a Citibank branch.
If you decide to opt-out please get in touch with www.DefendYourDollars.org and tell us about your experience or just let us know in the comment section below.