The Right to Financial Privacy Act (RTFPA) was enacted in 1978. It is overseen for compliance by the federal regulatory agency which has statutory authority for the subject financial institution (a financial service provider of various types). The RTFPA generally covers federal Government authority requests for financial records of a person (an individual or partnership of five or fewer individuals) or customer (a person who uses or has used the service of a financial service provider and for whom the provider has acted in a fiduciary capacity by maintaining an account in the person’s name). The RTFPA does not cover requests for financial records from other government offices or agencies, for instance, those at the state or county level; however, some states and other jurisdictions have enacted their own laws and rules regarding financial records and accessibility.
RTFPA defines “government authority” as any agency or department of the United States, or any officer, employee, or agent thereof, and it defines “financial record” as an original of, a copy of, or information known to have been derived from, any record held by a financial institution pertaining to a customer’s relationship with the financial institution.
The RTFPA is not the same as privacy of consumer financial information under Regulation P – Privacy Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). Financial records covered by the RTFPA generally are not protected under GLBA if the procedures follow specified instructions. The Right to Financial Privacy Act establishes:
- Confidentiality of financial records;
- Circumstances that require customer authorization for release of records;
- Process for Government authorities to access financial records;
- Duty of the financial institution;
- Civil penalties, liability, and disciplinary action for agencies or departments of the United States or financial institutions; and
- Good faith defense for financial institutions or their agents or employees making a disclosure of financial records under RFPA in good-faith reliance on a certificate by any Government authority.