|Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978|
|CITATION||12 U.S.C. S 3401 et seq,|
The RFPA gives customers of financial institutions the right to privacy from government searches. Prior to the Act, government officials could search financial records without telling the individual.
Unless an exception applies, release of records by financial institutions is prohibited.
|DATA COVERED||“Financial Records” means 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 RFPA applies to a “financial institution" which means any office of a bank, savings bank, card issuer, industrial loan company, trust company, savings association, building and loan, or homestead association (including cooperative banks), credit union, or consumer finance institution, located in any State or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, or the Virgin Islands.
The RFPA also applies to any agency or department of the United States, or any officer, employee or agent thereof.
Any agency or department of the United States or financial institution obtaining or disclosing financial records or information contained therein in violation of this chapter is liable to the customer to whom such records relate in an amount equal to the sum of --
(1) one hundred dollars ($100) without regard to the volume of records involved;
(2) any actual damages sustained by the customer as a result of the disclosure;
(3) such punitive damages as the court may allow, where the violation is found to have been willful or intentional; and
(4) in the case of any successful action to enforce liability under this section, the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney's fees as determined by the court.
The Act also provides for disciplinary proceedings for willful or intentional violations of the law by agents or employees of a department or agency. These actions are brought by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.