Privacy Policy.

Today I received a letter from Mercedes Benz Financial Services (“Mercedes”), the vendor to whom I pay my car note. They thanked me for using their services, and then shared their updated privacy policy. All I can say is, thank God I read the document.
I have repeatedly talked about the importance of reading contracts before agreeing to them.  And, I will continue to say, read the fine print in every document you receive. Why, because

  • You should know what you are agreeing to,
  • You should know your rights, and
  • You should what you can and cannot change.

Folks always ask me, Francine why should I read Privacy Policies and Terms of Use, I cannot do anything about them.  NOT true! While some things cannot be changed, others can be. You won’t know what information can be restricted, unless you read the document.
Below are several important points in the letter I received from Mercedes. (But know this, it’s not just Mercedes, it’ every vendor you do business with, such as Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung):

  1. The type of personal information Mercedes collects from me,
  2. How Mercedes uses my personal information,
  3. Reasons they can share my personal information,
  4. Whether I can limit sharing of my information.
  5. Steps I must take if I want to restrict sharing.

While I could restrict Mercedes from sharing some of my information, I had to act quickly.  Regretfully it’s my responsibility to take an affirmative action and say NO. If I do nothing, Mercedes assumes I am okay with them sharing my info.  While it’s not fair that the customer should be required to say “No” instead of the company being required to ask for permission, it’s the law.
Whenever laws are more favorable to companies instead of individuals, the individual will always suffer. It is so important to understand that whether we are talking about car financing, health care, taxes, or employment laws, in most cases the interest of corporations are always opposed to the individual.  Understanding that will help you take steps to protect yourself, rather than waiting for a company to protect you.
What are more take-aways here?

  1. Read these enclosures. Companies are required to notify customers whenever the company updates its terms of use and/or privacy policies.
  2. Read these documents as soon as you receive them. DON’T put them aside or throw them away without reading them.
  3. Take immediate action if you are invited to do so.
  4. Companies do what they need to do ONLY to the degree it is required and no more. Protecting yourself and knowing your rights is your responsibility.

I’m Attorney Francine Ward looking out for you. Follow me on Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter Law Page, my Google+ Page, or in one of my LinkedIn discussion groups.

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