Is it legal for a business to hold onto your personal information on their webserver after you’ve used their service?

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Is it legal for a business to hold onto your personal information on their webserver after you’ve used their service?

I needed to refinance my auto but was running out of options. I got desperate and decided to use an on-line website as my last lifeline. The company that I chose is listed as a legitimate website by the BBB, so that was enough to gain my confidence into entering my personal info (work/SSN). However, as expected, I could not get any refinancing due to my bad credit history. The website retained my information on their webserver, without any ability at all for me to remove the information. I e-mailed them and they said that the federal government requires them to hold my information for up to 24 months. Is this right?

Asked on August 24, 2010 under Business Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is an easy way to find out: ask them under what law or provision does the government require that they hold the information?  The federal government, since 911, has passed various laws that deal with national safety and security.  Not that this may be one of them but there may be some quirky law regarding the saving of personal information, although I doubt that there is.  I would not e-mail them but call and ask to speak with a supervisor.  And get his or her name and mailing address.  Ask them in writing.  And if they do not respond I would call the state attorney general's office and speak with someone.  They will best be able to direct you on what to do next and may even help you in this matter.  You may also want to inquire from the state banking department if they have ever heard of such a law.  Good luck.


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