Community banks share consumer information more than might be expected, according to an unprecedented analysis done by Bankers Systems Inc. and shared exclusively with Bank Technology News.

Many banks may be unaware that they are subject to privacy regulations requiring them to notify customers when information about them is shared with a third party. "A lot of banks think at first that they don't share information, but realize upon further analysis that they do," according to a spokeswoman for Bankers Systems, a St. Cloud, MN, provider of compliance software.

As the accompanying chart shows, 58% of large community banks and thrifts share customer information-not too far behind the 77% with assets of more than $1 billion that share information. Overall, just one quarter of depository institutios share customer information, compared with half of all finance companies.

These findings come from an analysis of 2,500 institutions, conducted as they signed up for Bankers Systems' privacy disclosure templates.

The company introduced several new templates at the recent Retail Delivery Show, including a privacy disclosure application in Spanish, variable disclosures for individual states, and a universal disclosure, which will satisfy the seven regulatory bodies that have a say in privacy matters in the banking, brokerage and insurance industries.

Because the regulatory requirements surrounding disclosure of consumer data are very complex, the universal product is designed to be created by telephone, in conjunction with a Bankers Systems representative.

The company also runs an Internet portal that has become popular in the industry. A handy information source on privacy regulations, the site can be found at www.privacyheadquarters.com.

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