314(b): Beware of oversharing

Under section 314(b) of the Patriot Act, credit unions, and other financial institutions, are permitted to share information with one another regarding individuals they suspect may be involved in terrorist or money laundering activities. Those institutions who elect to share information under 314(b) are provided with a safe harbor from liability if they notify FinCEN of their intent to share, verify that the institution with whom it will share information with has also notified FinCEN of its intent to share, use the shared information only for the permissible purposes and have procedures in place to protect the shared information. See, 31 C.F.R. § 1010.540(b).

One question that often comes up for 314(b) sharing is what type of information can be shared under the safe harbor. Of course, any information directly related to possible terrorist and money laundering activities may be shared, but what about other types of suspected criminal activities, such as fraud? Information about these types of activities can be shared under the 314(b) safe harbor, but only in certain circumstances. FinCEN guidance in this area can be a bit confusing so it’s helpful to break it down into a few steps to determine when credit unions are permitted to share information about these types of activities:


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