Personal Information. Financial Services Company. Privacy Policy.

3d illustration of folde locked by chains isolated over white

Personal information. Privacy Policy.

Do you ever wonder what financial services companies do with the highly personal information you are required to give them? These companies are privy to some of your most important information, such as social security number, income, credit history, account balances, transaction history and more.

I recently received an updated notice from American Express outlining what they legally do with my personal information, as well as what they don’t do. The notice also explains how I can limit the sharing of my information.

These are some reasons American Express says it shares your personal info, and is legally entitled to do so:

  • For our everyday business purposes– such as to process your transactions, maintain your account(s), respond to court orders and legal investigations, or report to credit bureaus
  • For our marketing purposes– to offer our products and services to you
  • For joint marketing with other financial companies
  • For our affiliates’ everyday business purposes– information about your transactions and experiences

See full list and explanations here:

According to the privacy advocacy group,, financial institutions must mail their customers privacy notices. It states that customers should pay close attention to mail containing phrases such as “Privacy Notice,” “Privacy Policy,” and “Opt-Out Notice.”

See more details here:

The law under the Financial Services Modernization Act, also known as GLB, gives consumers the right to opt-out of some personal information sharing, but these options are limited. The opt-out policies usually deal only with “non-affiliated third parties.” And customers have the burden of understanding and taking steps to opt-out. In other words, the financial institutions are not obligated to make it simple for you.

In today’s world, is it possible to prevent the “sharing” of any or all of your personal financial information? The answer is no. However, you should read all of your statements and other notices very carefully in order to know your privacy rights are and the steps you needed to minimize the sharing of your personal financial information.

I’m Attorney Francine Ward, and what do you think? Join the conversation on my Facebook Law Fan Page, my Twitter Law Page, my Google+ Page, or in one of my LinkedIn Groups.


Authors. Libel. UV-a


Authors beware when writing about people you know.

Old typewriterLast year, a federal jury sitting in Virginia awarded $3 million to Nicole Eramo, a former University of Virginia (UV-a) associate dean. The jury found Rolling Stone magazine had committed libel. The magazine published an article that tarnished Ms. Eramo’s reputation by alleging she was indifferent to allegations of gang rape on UV-a campus.

What’s the message here? Be careful what you write.

Yes, the First Amendment has certain guarantees regarding free speech and freedom of the press, but even the First Amendment has its limits. The Eramo jury found those limits.

So, as authors wanting to write about people that can potentially be recognized, here are a few things to take into consideration:

Understand the concept of libel. It’s a false statement published as a fact, which harms the reputation of a person, business or organization.

  1. Defamatory Statement. In breaking down the definition, know that the alleged libelous content must contain a defamatory statement that harms the reputation of someone.
  2. Easily Recognized. If the party you speak about can be identified, you risk being sued. This applies even if you change the name. It also applies to both fiction and nonfiction works of authorship.
  3. Published to a Third Party. The work must be seen by a third party, not just the author of the work and the person written about.
  4. Must be False. Finally, truth is a defense to libel. For a claim of libel to be successful, the statement must be false.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.