WASHINGTON - Bankers have told federal regulators they do not want to be "The Grinch That Stole Christmas" for letter carriers by adding billions of privacy-policy notices to already bulging holiday-season mailbags.

In comment letters on proposed privacy regulations that would carry out the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, financial services companies urged regulators to delay for as long as a year and a half the Dec. 13 deadline for giving customers mandated privacy notices. Some bolstered their argument by saying the correspondence would clog the public mail system.

"We believe … the volume of privacy mailings in conjunction with the holiday mail may overwhelm the Postal Service," wrote James M. Garavaglia, senior vice president of Comerica Inc., a $39 billion-asset bank holding company in Detroit.

Thomas J. Ryan, a lawyer for American Express Co., warned that privacy notices could be overlooked by customers more interested in holiday cards and celebrations. "The resulting deluge of privacy notices mailed in December - in the midst of the normal holiday mail crush - would overburden consumers at a time of year when this type of notice is likely to get little attention."

The Postal Service, however, responded that there is no need to worry. It handles about 202 billion pieces of mail a year, so an estimated 2.5 billion privacy notices would just be a drop in the mailbox. "It wouldn't be a problem at all," a spokesman said. "We would welcome the business."

- Michele Heller

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