(12/26/2002) While based in fact, this chain contains several mistakes and many significant omissions. It loses steam once you realize Ameritech isn't so evil after all.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
In case you missed this on the news last night, Betty Montgomery was on telling everyone that in small print on your Ameritech phone bill this month is a message telling you that Ameritech (SBC) intends to sell your account information unless you notify them by the end of the month that you do not want them to make it available.
The phone number is (800) 303-7260 to select that you do not want your account information made available to others. Betty (our Attorney General) recommends that you call and notify them that you do not want it made available. She is upset about the way SBC is covering this up.
The call is automated but your must select option 2 to tell them to keep your info private. The call takes less than a minute. This is just another way for SBC to make money while making us pay more for our bills. Just an FYI! Keep it moving to spread the word.
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Betty Montgomery, Ohio's Attorney General from 1999 to 2003, has frequently butted heads with communications giant Ameritech. This chain is very similar to an earlier warning that the four major credit bureaus would share your information if you didn't stop them. While it is true that these institutions can sell your information, it is not a new thing, nor is it done arbitrarily. This chain, and others like it are borne of the public's general ignorance of the laws passed in their names.
Financial institutions have been sharing your information for years under The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1997. The Financial Services Modernization Act enacted July 1, 2001 extended the same rights to banks, utilities and other institutions. It requires organizations to let you know of their intent to share or sell your data and give you a clear and accessible way to opt-out of that arrangement. And they can't just give your information to anyone who asks - the requester must have "permissible purpose," as outlined in the 1997 law.
Unfortunately, the confusing "privacy statements" institutions mailed out in the spring of 2001, coupled with sensational press coverage, led many to believe this was one more example of corporate America using the legal system to get things the public would never ordinarily give them. But be aware, Ameritech is not the only company with your information and the right to share it. To completely protect your privacy, you will need to contact every utility, credit bureau, bank, credit card company, etc., and opt-out. Also, be aware that some versions of this letter include a fraudulent phone number. Break this Chain!