WASHINGTON — FleetBoston Financial Corp. unveiled its consumer privacy policy Tuesday, joining at least two other large banks that have vowed not to share customer data with unaffiliated companies unless a customer specifically requests it.

“We have decided not to share any nonpublic information with third parties without customers’ consent,” said Agnes Bundy Scanlan, FleetBoston’s chief privacy officer and managing director. If customers do not tell Fleet that they want their information to be shared, the company will not share it, she said.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 lets banks share customer data with unaffiliated companies as long as customers are given a chance to block it. Fleet is going one step further by sharing data only after customers have requested it.

“We think our customers want us to go this way,” Ms. Bundy Scanlan said. FleetBoston’s policy is similar to policies adopted by Wachovia Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C. and Bank of America Corp. in Charlotte, N.C.

Fleet will begin mailing its privacy policies March 1 as a statement insert. It will take effect once the insert reaches Fleet’s more than 20 million customers.

Banks have until July 1 to comply with the new privacy rules.

The regulations require financial institutions to send annual notices to consumers detailing how data is used and to give customers a chance to prevent their information from being shared with third-party marketers.

Fleet’s new privacy rules come on the heels of a lawsuit filed Dec. 28 by Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch against its Fleet Mortgage Inc. unit. The suit charges that Fleet Mortgage participated in deceptive telemarketing campaigns. It alleges that consumers were led to think that they were signing up for free trial memberships for discount services, such as car maintenance and legal fees, and that instead Fleet billed their mortgage accounts unless the membership was canceled within 30 days.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.