Finally, Section 1681(1) provides for release in response to a court order. So, the act does intend
that consumer credit information remain confidential, but the Act does give two ways to get the
information (consent and court order) and it does provide for release of information that may be a
valuable investigative tool.
G. Right to Financial Privacy Act: 12 USC 3401.
This act strictly limits the government's access to financial records. The term "financial record"
includes not only copies of records but also any information known to have been derived from a record
held by the financial institution.
If you need financial records, the easiest option is to get consent from the customer. Sections
3402(1) and 3404 provide for release to the government upon written consent of the customer. The
consent under 3404 is limited to a period of three months or less, must state that the customer may
revoke the consent at any time before the records are disclosed, must state to which government
authority and for which purposes the records may be used, and states the customer's rights under
Section 3404 (the fact that a financial institution cannot require such a consent as a condition of doing
business and that the customer can obtain a copy of the record of all releases made to the government
under Section 3404). CIDR 195-1 has samples of the customer consent form (Figure 62) and a
notification of the customer's rights (Figure 63).
The next possible option is a formal written request under Section 3408. Section 3408 sets out
basic requirements for the formal written request. First: no administrative or judicial subpoena authority
appears available to the government authority seeking the records. Second: the request is authorized
by regulations promulgated by the head of the agency or department. Third: there is reason to believe
that the records sought are relevant to a legitimate law enforcement inquiry; and a copy of the proper
notice is either served upon the customer or mailed to his last known address on or before the date of
the request to the financial institution. The notice must state the nature of the law enforcement inquiry
with reasonable specificity. The notice, as set out in Section 3408, is:
"Record or information concerning your transactions held by the financial institution named in
the attached request are being sought by this (agency or department) in accordance with the
Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978 for the following purpose:
"If you desire that such records or information not be made available, you must:
"1. Fill out the accompanying motion paper and sworn statement or write one of your own,
stating that you are the customer whose records are being requested by the Government and
either giving the reasons you believe the records are not relevant to the legitimate law