Q: What does the Right to Financial Privacy Act do?
A: Pursuant to the FDIC manual, a high level description of the RFPA includes the following:
The 1978 Right to Financial Privacy Act
(RFPA) establishes specific procedures that federal government authorities
must follow in order to obtain information from a financial institution about a customer’s financial records.
Generally, these requirements include obtaining subpoenas, notifying the customer of the request, and providing the customer with an opportunity to object.
The Act imposes related limitations and duties on financial institutions prior to the release of information requested by federal authorities. For purposes of RFPA, a customer is defined as any person or representative of that person who utilized or is utilizing any service of a financial institution, or for whom a financial institution is acting or has acted as a fiduciary, in relation to an account maintained in the person’s name. “Person” is defined by the RFPA as an individual or a partnership of five or few individuals. Therefore, restrictions in the Act do not apply to the financial records of corporations or partnerships with six or more partners. The RFPA has been amended several times, most recently in 2001, to permit greater access without customer notice to customer information requested for criminal law enforcement purposes and for certain intelligence activities.