Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Seattle -September 22, 2000 - US Bank has agreed in a settlement not to share their customers' personal financial information with bank affiliates or other businesses until consumers are given the opportunity to keep the information confidential, Attorney General Christine Gregoire said today.

"Consumers trust banks with their money," Gregoire said. "In exchange, banks should respect the privacy of consumers' credit cards, Social Security numbers and other personal financial information. Unfortunately, that's all too often not the case."

A settlement filed today in U.S. District Court in Minnesota adds Washington, 37 other states and the District of Columbia to an earlier settlement signed by US Bank and Minnesota in 1999. In that lawsuit, Minnesota alleged the bank violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by sharing consumers' credit card numbers and other private financial information with marketing firms and by misrepresenting the bank's privacy policy to consumers.

In the wake of the Minnesota settlement, Washington and the other states sought restitution for US Bank customers living in their states. The amended agreement calls upon the bank to pay $2 million in consumer restitution and monetary damages. Washington's share of the settlement is nearly $67,000.

According to the settlement, US Bank must make restitution to all consumers who purchased -- but didn't use -- goods or services from third-party marketers who originally obtained a consumer's information from the bank. The bank will notify consumers who may be eligible for restitution.

Further, US Bank must give consumers the option of prohibiting the bank from sharing personal information with any third-party marketers or bank affiliates. Current federal law only requires banks to ask consumers if they object to having their information shared with non-affiliated third parties.

"This settlement gives US Bank customers even greater privacy rights than those already provided in federal law," Gregoire said. "Hopefully this settlement will be a blueprint for even tougher national privacy legislation."