Dear Alpha Consumer,
First, the facts: The Chase policy, which is similar to those of many other credit card companies, states: "You may tell us not to share information about you with non-financial companies outside of our family of companies. Even if you do tell us not to share, we may do so as required or permitted by law.... You may tell us not to share [information] about you within our family of companies.... Even if you do tell us not to share, we may share other types of information within our family."
Chase spokesman Jessica Hougentogler explains that if a customer opts out of having information shared, then it will not be shared with other companies — except with a small number of firms that have a "special relationship" with Chase.
Companies on the receiving end of that special relationship include Chase's partners in marketing credit card products, such as Disney, Southwest Airlines, and Amazon.com. Such information sharing is allowed by federal law, Hougentogler says.
The answer to your question, then, is no, you cannot keep Chase from sharing your information, at least with certain companies. You can choose to give up your credit card, of course, but most major credit cards come with similar privacy policies that allow information sharing between affiliated companies. You can, however, call your company and ask for the highest degree of privacy it allows, which will decrease the number of companies that know your name, your address, your buying patterns, and in some cases, even your Social Security number.
• The personal finance blog The Digerati Life published a holiday edition of personal finance advice, just in time for planning your 2008 budget. Remember to send me your 2008 financial resolutions for a New Year's edition of Alpha Consumer. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.