Chase’s “Privacy Notification” — I’ve never bothered to read one of these before

I received a Privacy Notification from Chase this week, I have a credit card with them. I usually just throw these things in the trash, I’ve always figured they had nothing good to say.

But as a lark, I decided to read this one on my morning walk. It is impressive for its sheer audaciousness.

* What Chase collects can include, but is not limited to, SSN, income, transaction history, account balances, payment history, credit history. OK none of this particularly offends, I am not suprised, they need much of this to operate their card business, tho “transaction history” could cover a lot of info — just the dates, amounts, merchants, or can they work with merchants to amass even more info on exactly what products I buy? Again, tho, this is not an overly surprising or concerning list.

* Chase can share this information with any company or any person on the planet for Chase’s everyday business purposes (processing transactions, maintaining account, responding to court orders, reporting to credit bureaus), for Chase’s own marketing purposes, for joint marketing with any other financial company, and for the use by affiliates or subsidiaries for their everyday business purposes. And I have no control over this, I cannot as a consumer stop or limit this sharing at all. I am pretty sure that “everyday business purposes” and “joint marketing with any other financial company” can be stretched to cover every possible use on the planet, so basically Chase can do whatever they want with my info with whoever they want.

* I can only limit: Chase sharing my creditworthiness with affiliates/subs (big deal, they can all go get the info themselves from Experian/etc), affiliates or nonaffiliates marketing to me (again big deal, since Chase reserves the right to do joint marketing with any of these).

* If I quit being a Chase customer, Chase reserves the right to keep and share my information forever. Nice.

* And why can’t I limit any other sharing? Because Federal law doesn’t require Chase to give you the power to. So basically Chase is saying, “we have no moral or ethical standards, we will share right up to the limit of the law, we don’t care whether it is in your best interest or not”.

After reading all this, I have a pretty good sense of how Chase views me as a customer — just something to be exploited or used as they see fit without regard to my concerns. I’m not shocked, it is not like I ever expected to have a warm and fuzzy relationship with my credit card company. But I did kind of feel like they were making enough money on their explicit fees — merchant fees, annual fees, late fees, interest charges — and that they didn’t need to sell me to any and all comers to juice their returns.

I will probably start to think harder about my bank choices now. I’m curious about online alternatives like “Simple”: I’d like to find an institution that promises to protect my money, privacy, and identity first and foremost, that requires opt-in for any other use, that shares only the absolute minimum to credit agencies (I certainly accept that any bank will share information about my non-performance with the world, it is my responsibility to meet my obligations).

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