Perry, NY asked in Banking, Libel & Slander, Consumer Law and Identity Theft for New York

Q: Is it legal for a bank or one of its employees to share personal financial or account activity with private citizens?

I live in a very small town in western NY. A few years ago a local bank I was using, or one of its employees, shared my personal account activities with a private citizen or perhaps my employer at the time(wired transactions to another state I was moving to). An individual, who owns a business and is acquainted my ex-employer, made a remark pertaining to my wiring of funds after having a few too many drinks, which was unsettling to say the least. I responded by removing most of my funds from that bank, save for the minimum amount needed to not incur a charge, and later closed that account. I moved out of state for a few years, and now that I am back I am not willing to trust any local establishments with the care of my personal financial details. Is it legal for a bank, employer, or any other entity in my state to share personal financial details with private citizens or members of the public? I am not wealthy but certainly am not comfortable with the situation that occurred. Thanks.

2 Lawyer Answers
V. Jonas Urba
V. Jonas Urba
PREMIUM
Answered
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Banks are fiduciaries. That means that your interests should be above their own. They do not or should not share any private information with anyone unless by court order or with your consent. Sometimes customers make bank's employees their trustees (giving them more discretion) to invest funds and as part of doing so they may have limited authority to disclose but usually do so carefully.

You have not stated exactly what was shared. You have also not mentioned whether the "unauthorized" disclosure caused you damages ( for example you were denied a job or a loan or mortgage etc... because of the disclosure). Or whether what was disclosed was false and who the party was.

If you suffered damages which you can prove consult with a lawyer. If you want more protection go with a big financial institution. They generally have more policies and if you ever try to even cash an out of state check with one of the biggies you know exactly what I mean. Your experience probably happened with a smaller institution and sometimes that's the problem? Could be poorly trained staff with few formal policies.

Barry Eran Janay agrees with this answer

Barry Eran Janay
Barry Eran Janay
Answered
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: More details are necessary, but taking everything you're saying as fact they most likely they breached their own policies and likely broke privacy laws governed by the NYS Dept. of Financial Services.

You can file a complaint here:

http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm

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