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I have an account with a bank that I closed many years ago. I'm not sure if they still have my personal information on file or not, but is there a way to request that they purge ALL my information? Do they legally have to comply?

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    No. It's my understanding that there's a statutory requirement to keep such information for N years in case the government needs to investigate you. – RonJohn Jul 30 at 14:34
  • I thought so. thank you – bitshift Jul 30 at 14:36
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    Should not the answer to this type of questions be a "Yes" by default? Of course you can ask anyone of anything. This question thus might be better rewritten to explicitly ask what the bank would do in response (i.e., nothing in this case). – void_ptr Jul 30 at 15:28
  • @void_ptr I think the last sentence Do they legally have to comply? is doing what you're suggesting already. – dwizum Jul 30 at 15:42
  • @RonJohn there are many requirements by many different government bodies or regulators around bank account record retention. It would be staggering to try to list them all. The short answer to this question is - no, they will not honor such a request, but only because they can't and not because they don't want to. – dwizum Jul 30 at 15:45
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No.

Even if there was a data protection law like the European GDPR, that's not going to require banks to erase information about accounts you've had in the past. Banks are generally going to be legally required to retain information about their customers. If you received interest, for example, the bank reported that interest to you and the IRS at tax time and needs to retain that information for a number of years. There are several hundred additional regulators (state and federal) that have their own set of regulations for how long banks are going to be legally required to retain information depending on various factors. Banks have entire departments that synthesize thousands of pages of regulations into data retention policies that get applied uniformly.

Even if each of these regulators approved removing your information, there are likely to be practical reasons that is impossible. If there were transactions that moved money from one account to another, particularly if the other account is still active, they're going to need to retain information about your account. Otherwise, someone's account is going to show transfers to/from unknown account which would be a problem.

  • For the sake of completeness, there are many, many government-imposed retention policies beyond just interest reporting to the IRS. The FFIEC requires record keeping for 5 years to help support money laundering investigations, for instance. The SSA, FDIC, SEC, and NCUA all have retention policies for bank accounts in general, and there are many special case policies (which can be significantly longer) for specific account types or scenarios (i.e. fannie/freddie mortgages). – dwizum Jul 30 at 15:40
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    @dwizum - Of course. That was intended to be one example among many not an exhaustive list of every regulation that any regulator would have for any type of bank account (which would realistically be thousands and thousands of pages of regulations). – Justin Cave Jul 30 at 15:50
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    Yes - just wanted to point that out, so it didn't leave people with the impression that the stupid meddling IRS was at fault for ruining everything, when in fact they're just one in a long line of entities that require institutions to maintain records.! – dwizum Jul 30 at 15:56

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