The Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978

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The Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978
Short Title The Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978
Official Text The Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978
Country/Jurisdiction United States
State or Province
Regulatory Bodies
Date Enacted 1978

Scope of the Law Individuals, Customers
Information Account, Authenticating, Contact, Credit, Identifying, Location, Professional, Transactional

Taxonomy Decisional Interference, Identification

The Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978 precludes the government from accessing customers' information without any purpose. However, the Act lists some exceptions.

In other words, the Act determines limits the government searches by giving the customers of financial institutions the right to some level of privacy.

Text of the law

§ 14.1 Definitions.
For purposes of this regulation, the term:
(a) Financial institution means any office of a bank, savings bank, card issuer as defined in section 103 of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 1602(n)), industrial loan company, trust company, savings and loan, building and loan, or homestead association (including cooperative bank), credit union, or consumer financial institution, located in any State or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, or the Virgin Islands.
(b) Financial record means an original of, a copy of, or information known to have been derived from, any record held by a financial institution pertaining to a customer’s relationship with the financial institution. Account, Transactional, Credit
(c) Person means an individual or a partnership of five or fewer individuals.
(d) Customer means any person or authorized representative of that person who utilized or is utilizing any service of a financial institution, or for whom a financial institution is acting or has acted as a fiduciary, in relation to an account maintained in the person’s name.
(e) Law enforcement inquiry means a lawful investigation or official proceeding inquiring into a violation of or failure to comply with any criminal or civil statute or any regulation, rule, or order issued pursuant thereto.
(f) Departmental unit means those offices, divisions, bureaus, or other components of the Department of the treasury authorized to conduct law enforcement inquiries.
(g) Act means the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978.
§ 14.2 Purpose.
The purpose of these regulations is to authorize Departmental units to request financial records from a financial institution pursuant to the formal written request procedure authorized by section 1108 of the Act, and to set forth the conditions under which such requests may be made. Decisional Interference
§ 14.3 Authorization.
Departmental units are hereby authorized to request financial records of any customer from a financial institution pursuant to a formal written request under the Act only if: Decisional Interference
(a) No administrative summons or subpoena authority reasonably appears to be available to the Departmental unit to obtain financial records for the purpose for which the records are sought; Authenticating
(b) There is reason to believe that the records sought are relevant to a legitimate law enforcement inquiry and will further that inquiry;
(c) The request is issued by a supervisory official of a rank designated by the head of the requesting Departmental unit. Officials so designated shall not delegate this authority to others;
(d) The request adheres to the requirements set forth in §14.4; and
(e) The notice requirements set forth in section 1108(4) of the Act, or the requirements pertaining to delay of notice in section 1109 of the Act are satisfied, except in situations where no notice is required. (e.g., section 1113(g))
§ 14.4 Contents of request.
The formal written request shall be in the form of a letter or memorandum to an appropriate official of the financial institution from which financial records are requested. The request shall be signed by an issuing official of the requesting Department unit. It shall set forth that official’s name, title, business address and business phone number. The request shall also contain the following: Professional, Identifying, Location, Contact
(a) The identity of the customer or customers to whom the records pertain; Identification
(b) A reasonable description of the records sought;
§ 14.5
(c) Any other information that the issuing official deems appropriate, e.g., the date on which the requesting Departmental unit expects to present a certificate of compliance with the applicable provisions of the Act, the name and title of the individual to whom disclosure is to be made, etc.
In cases where customer notice is delayed by a court order, a copy of the court order shall be attached to the formal written request.
§ 14.5 Certification.
Prior to obtaining the requested records pursuant to a formal written request, an official of a rank designated by the head of the requesting Departmental unit shall certify in writing to the financial institution that the Departmental unit has complied with the applicable provisions of the Act.

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