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The Fine Print

writer x

I could wallpaper my office every month with the shiny inserts that get slipped inside my credit card, utility, and insurance bills. You know, those index-card sized advertisements for Thomas Kinkade figurines, vacuum cleaners, commemorative plates and specially minted gold coins that the U.S. Treasury swears are .0000000001% gold. And they can only allow four coins per customer! Send in for yours today!!

In addition to the shiny inserts, my credit card companies, as a special favor to me (because they care about my privacy) also slip in the occasional “Privacy Policy” insert because, again, they care so deeply about me and my privacy—and some bloated governmental agency tells them they have to.

So, I have to wonder, since we’ve been getting these privacy policy notices—which, by the way, are always crammed on an index-sized tri-fold in 8 pt font that you can barely read, has anyone noticed any changes to their privacy? Better or worse than before?

I think it’s gotten worse.

Identify theft is at an all-time high, especially in Arizona, where our local newspaper refers to identify theft for some in our society as a survival tool. And despite the privacy regulations, which were evidently dreamed up by congressman with way too much time on their hands, I still receive truckloads of credit card applications and advertisements from realtors, insurance agencies, financial institutions and banks that I never asked for, don’t want, and shred usually as soon as I receive them. Before anyone adds a comment about the Do Not Call lists and the credit freezes, yes and yes. I know about them. Been there, done that. Barely made a difference.

So yesterday, for fun, I actually opened the little tri-fold and read the privacy policy from my credit card company. For starters, I had to get out my magnifying glass because the print was microscopic. Apparently, I have several choices about “opting” in or out as to whether my credit card company can share my personal information with others. Unless I tell them otherwise (they require a letter, certified), they can share personal information about me with anyone they want. And it’s not as easy as just telling them in a letter, “Please don’t share ANY information about me with ANYONE,” I have to select from a bunch of choices which are varying degrees of what to share and who to share it with.

The kicker?

The final choice, in teeny tiny print, says, and I quote:

Even if you do tell us to not share your personal information, we may share your information anyway within our family of companies…

So much for privacy. And opting out.

::Writer X also writes at The 100 Most Annoying Things::

September 11, 2009 9:12 am

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