August 22, 2001
9:25 AM   Subscribe

To stop the credit bureaus from releasing your personal info without your knowledge, call 888-567-8688. To stop your bank, brokerage firm, credit union, etc., from doing the same, you'll need to send a letter. More info in comments.
posted by JParker (16 comments total)
The 1999 Financial Modernization Act allows financial institutions to share your personal financial information with other institutions without your permission. I didn't think of the credit bureaus. Fortunately, my friend Dan did. He sent me an email this morning with this toll free telephone number you can use to "opt-out" of having the credit bureaus release your information without your knowledge or consent. It only takes a couple of minutes to do, and you can take care of one additional person in the household while making only one call, you'll just need to know their Social Security number. Be sure to listen closely, the first opt out is only for two years, make sure you wait until they prompt you to press '3' on your keypad to opt out for good. [Note: you still need to notify any banks, brokers, credit card or lease companies, in writing, if they've sent you a letter informing you about this new law and your rights. The sample letter above is courtesy of Ralph Nader.]
posted by JParker at 9:25 AM on August 22, 2001

Is this the same hoax that was circulating a few weeks ago?
posted by preguicoso at 9:38 AM on August 22, 2001

I don't know about any hoax (obviously!) but the phone number is real - I called it, and it sounded real enough to me. If you have any info on this not being legitimate please post it! (If it's not legit, I should be able to have some fun with the FBI over interstate fraud with this one.)
posted by JParker at 9:44 AM on August 22, 2001

I googled the phone number and it shows up on many financial institutions' web sites as the correct "opt-out" number.
posted by JParker at 9:47 AM on August 22, 2001

See: This email, while not entirely a hoax, is not entirely true either.

Snopes is a great resource for checking this kind of stuff out before forwarding email or posting to weblogs...
posted by Shadowkeeper at 9:49 AM on August 22, 2001

The phone number listed is actually on most credit card applications. Nobody pays much attention to the legal, though. I just happen to know this because I worked for an agency that did mostly credit card direct mail.
posted by smich at 9:52 AM on August 22, 2001

Thanks, Shadowkeeper! That's excellent info. I think my original post above is correct, and I would still recommend calling the number, unless you LIKE receiving bushel-baskets of mail with "pre-approved" offers of condo timeshares in Sound Bend or VISA debit cards or mortgage refinancing, etc. I personally don't want anybody accessing my credit info unless I requested credit from them.
posted by JParker at 9:55 AM on August 22, 2001

Here's some information from the Federal Trade Commission's website.
posted by Hankins at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2001

Mea culpa. Since the only thing that's changed is that your banks and brokers can now give away your info, and they must have already notified you in writing, the phone number shown above is nothing new.

As partial atonement, I offer the Smithsonian's new interactive web project, History Wired, that lets you browse their collections by theme, by timeline, or both. Please forgive me.
posted by JParker at 10:38 AM on August 22, 2001

'tis better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
posted by aramaic at 10:42 AM on August 22, 2001

The hoax a few weeks back dealt with a mythical deadline after which all of your information would be unleashed. This is not the case.

However, the number is real... See here for more...
posted by fooljay at 11:22 AM on August 22, 2001

JParker -- go post that Smithsonian link on the front page right now, it is way too good to get lost inside a thread about something else.
posted by briank at 11:41 AM on August 22, 2001

Sorry, the link above doesn't work anymore, dammit.

Please wait while Fooljay Explorer searches for your file...
posted by fooljay at 11:48 AM on August 22, 2001

briank, done.
posted by JParker at 11:50 AM on August 22, 2001

More good info can be found at I particulary love the reverse-coldcall script at! :)
posted by crankydoodle at 6:18 PM on August 22, 2001

if you don't want to bother calling the number, you can always just not pay for six months to a year. the junk mail totally stops coming.
posted by sugarfish at 7:51 AM on August 23, 2001

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