Even funeral homes and cemeteries are clamping down on the release of personal information. I can recall many times when I contacted a mortuary or cemetery to “flesh out” a family tree or locate an heir. Between the privacy scare and the industry consolidation you may find that your inquiries drop you into the corporate maze.
The funeral industry loans money to people to bury their dead. Under Gramm-Leach-Bliley the industry is classified as a financial institution, limiting their release of personal information. The International Cemetery and Funeral Association reports the details in a May 2001 article, New Privacy Act May Affect Some Cemeteries and Funeral Homes.
GLBA allows consumers and customers to protect their “nonpublic personal information” (which means any “personally identifiable financial information” about the consumer that is not “publicly available information”). Information about a consumer is not publicly available information unless the financial institution reasonably believes the information has been made publicly available by lawful means (e.g., listed numbers in a telephone book). Personally identifiable financial information includes any information a financial institution collects about a consumer in conjunction with providing a financial product or service (e.g., the consumer’s name, address and telephone number, their credit history with the institution and others). Even a list or database consisting only of names and addresses identifying persons who are “consumers” or “customers” of a financial institution contains protected “nonpublic personal information” about those persons.