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Privacy Policy Laws

A privacy policy is a legal document or statement that explains the manner in which personal information is collected, used and managed. The personal information would be any information that can identify a person. A person's name, age, contact information, marital status, hospital records, banking information, etc. are just a few forms of personal information. Below are several questions regarding privacy policy.

Are privacy policies pretty standard, or do I need a lawyer to review or create it?

A privacy policy can vary greatly from one business to another. Each policy expresses the need for the individual use of each entity. This means what works for a blog as far as privacy policies, probably wouldn't work for an online bank. Each policy is written differently for the need of the business or site. This allows the owner of the privacy policy to determine how much control they allow a user. You may want to hire an IP business attorney to assist you in writing a privacy policy for your needs. This will help you find the right policy for you while saving you money down the road.

Does the Privacy Act apply to Hotels releasing information to anyone besides myself without my consent?

This would depend on what is stated in the Hotels privacy policy. There are no laws that govern what information a Hotel can release when asked. However, if the Hotel's privacy policy states that they cannot release any personal information about their guests, and they do, then they would be in breach of contract. While breach of contract is a serious matter, it wouldn't place the Hotel in violation of any law or statute.

What would happen if a bank misplaced my file and another teller, customer, etc., had access to my file? If they took copies from my file, is there any law protecting my personal information/ID, SS#, etc. from being accessed due to their negligence?

Case Details: I was at my bank discussing some issues with a bank officer. The lady pulled my file containing my personal information, photo ID, passport, SSN and account numbers. The officer left my open file on a desk next to another officer with a client.

Your personal information is protected by the banks privacy policy. You should receive a copy of the privacy policy at least once a year, from your bank. The bank is required to protect your personal information at all times. The only time your personal information should be accessed at the bank is conduct banking related business.

As far as another bank officer gaining your personal information while it is lying on a desk, they would have access to the information at any time and could access your file. This shouldn't be a concern due to the person being an employee of the bank. The concern is if an individual walks in off the street and sees the information lying on a desk and takes it. If this were to happen, the bank would be responsible for any damages that would occur.

You may want to discuss this issue with the banks manager. Express your concerns about the careless handling of your personal information by the bank officer. This should be done in a casual manner without hostility. After you have spoken to the manager, you should put the issue in writing and mention what course of action the manager plans to take on the matter. Inform the manager that in the event something happens to your personal information, the bank has been informed of your concerns and they could potentially be liable in the event the information was to reach the wrong hands.

I have personal loans with two separate companies. One called the other and asked for a reference and the lady gave her more information then she asked for. What should I do? I want to close my account due to the breach of privacy but not sure what I need to do.

You would have reason to sue the company that released your personal information based on "public disclosure of private facts." However, before you could actually collect on this, you would have to show the court that you suffered damages from this action.

To close your account, you need to send a certified letter notifying them that you want to close your account. Also mention that you will file complaint with the Attorney General's Office if they release any personal information about you again.

If the company refused to close your account, you have two options. You can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office or take the company to small claims court.

The company can legally hold on to your account file after they close your account. The account file is also a part of the company's record which they have a legal right to maintain those records. However, just because the company can hold your records, they cannot release any further information without your permission. If they do, you have a right to sue them.

To learn more about how a privacy policy works, you can contact an Expert in Business Law.
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