The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) at 15 U.S.C. § 6801 et. seq., protects the privacy of customers who provide information to U.S. financial institutions.  Although there are some important exceptions mentioned at 15 U.S.C. §6821(c) – (g), GLBA restricts access to  “nonpublic personal information” like bank account numbers, account balances, etc.  In some cases, GLBA can therefore act as a bar to an asset search at a financial institution.

At 15 U.S.C. §6821, GLBA specifically protects personal information at U.S. financial institutions by outlawing pretexting.  This means for example, that it is illegal to make false statements to a bank customer or a bank in order to access protected personal information.   Submitting false documents to a bank, (to obtain the protected information), is also illegal pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 6821.  Soliciting a person to use false pretenses to access the protected information at a bank, is also prohibited.

Violating GLBA is punishable pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 6823 by a criminal fine or imprisonment of up to five years.  In aggravated cases, fines may also be doubled and imprisonment can be for up to ten years.  As NXIVM Corp. vs. Rick Ross, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, Index # 06-CV-01051 demonstrates, a GLBA violation can however, also be alleged in a civil court case.  Although the NXIVM case was commenced as a trademark / copyright violation claim against Mr. Rick Ross, Mr. Ross filed a Verified Counterclaim essentially alleging that NXVIM could have illegally obtained his bank and other private information by hiring private investigator Juval Aviv and /or the Interfor private investigation firm.

According to hearsay allegations at page 8, paragraph 27 of the Verified Counterclaim, Interfor had supposedly bribed Fleet Bank employees to access Mr. Ross’s bank customer information.  The Counterclaim alternatively supplied the hearsay allegation that illegal pretexting could have been used to acquire bank customer information.  Mr. Aviv of Intefor however, denied any wrongdoing at his November 7, 2007 Reply, filed with the Court.

(Edited January 14, 2012)

Copyright 2008 Fred L. Abrams