Privacy rights a concern after company’s actions
Every year, those multi-page information mailings arrived in the mailbox, going into detail about how your credit card company is so concerned about your privacy. Makes you wonder considering recent investigations, however, if privacy really is a big concern of some credit card companies’ top brass.
It’s come to light in the past week or so that Bank of America willingly handed over purchasing information from more than 200 of its customers, at the FBI’s or Justice Department’s request.
They wanted that information from purchases made in the Washington D.C. area near the time of the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol. Bank of America has yet to answer media questions on whether there were subpoenas issued to get that information. Questions to other credit card companies on whether similar information was sought from them have yet to be answered.
As a card holder myself, I wrote personally to Bank of America this week with my concerns —I got the canned answer I’m sure was sent to everyone who wrote:
“We take the privacy and confidentiality of client information very seriously. We also have the obligation under federal law, along with all major financial institutions, to respond to law enforcement inquiries with the specific information requested. We are not permitted to discuss law enforcement inquiries, or the information provided, with anyone other than the participating agency.”
According to some national media outlets, the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act requires financial institutions to cooperate with law enforcement to detect acts such as money laundering, terrorist financing and criminal acts. It’s not clear whether the FBI or Justice Department had specific people they were investigating or if Bank of America did a scan of all accounts to find purchases in that time frame. They looked for travel, hotel and purchase information (including guns) made in the D.C. area.
Was the criminal activity this past summer in cities like Portland and Minneapolis, some of it also damaging federal property, a concern to the federal authorities? Did Bank of America and other credit card companies comply with requests for the same information then, if it was even sought?
Don’t bank on it. It leaves one wondering if privacy rights are also on their way out the window. Maybe it’s time to go back to using cash where possible.