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PIFI generally contains private and confidential data visible only to authorized personnel. The term is mainly applied in an operating environment where security, privacy and authenticity of financial information is the primary objective. The data stored within PIFI is used for a set of different applications and/or business services. For example, an online e-commerce site may contact a consumer's bank and use PIFI from the bank's server to identify and validate a buyer’s credit card.
Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, financial institutions must alert their customers to privacy policies and practices and avoid the disclosure of nonpublic personal information about consumers to third parties without consumers' consent. Financial institutions must also establish appropriate standards for protect PIFI.