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NEW YORK – U.S. Banker has been taken to task for its criticism of credit unions’ privacy policies and plans in an article printed in the June issue of the Thompson Publications magazine. In a letter to the editor from Peggy Wilson, director, corporate marketing communications for Bankers Systems Inc., St. Cloud, Minn. entitled, “Credit unions get bum rap on privacy,” Wilson cited the article in U.S. Banker, “Credit Unions, Consumers’ Friends?” that referred to statistics regarding the privacy disclosure plans of 3,900 financial institutions that were released in April by Bankers Systems. Wilson explained that the company released the data “to provide helpful information and benchmarks to financial institutions when evaluating their own privacy policies, plans and mailing schedules.” She continued that, “We are concerned that the limited explanation of the issues in the publication’s article, coupled with the publication’s choice of illustration, may have left the reader with a misleading portrait of credit unions and their privacy practices.” Wilson pointed out two issues she said are important to keep in mind: Bankers Systems’ data was based on information it received from a group of financials including banks, credit unions and finance companies that have worked with Bankers Systems to develop their privacy disclosures; and from Bankers Systems’ work with CUNA, “their experience indicates credit unions have business relationships triggering the opt-out option at about the same rate as community banks – less than 5%,” Wilson wrote. She offered that “much of the difference between their information and our statistics is a result of.the practices and needs of specific credit unions who worked with us, and interpretations of the joint marketing exception described in the financial privacy regulation of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.” Wilson emphasized that, “Understanding these issues will allow the reader to more fully comprehend and characterize the privacy actions being undertaken by credit unions.” She concluded that, “Through nearly five decades as the leading national provider of compliance products and services to the financial services industry, Bankers Systems knows that credit unions and banks alike understand the vital importance of maintaining their members’ and customers’ trust while providing them with the new services they expect and need. “We have worked with thousands of credit unions and banks as they thoughtfully and thoroughly developed policies and practices that respect their members’ and customers’ financial privacy wishes. It is our experience that they are taking the issue very seriously.” – [email protected]

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