Before protected records may be obtained under any of the five authorized methods of access, a supervisory official of the government authority seeking access must submit to the financial institution a certificate stating that all applicable provisions of the Act have been complied with. 12 U.S.C. § 3404. Good faith reliance by the employees and agents of the financial institution upon this government certification of compliance absolves the institution of civil liability for any improper disclosure of records. 12 U.S.C. § 3417(c). Certification is not required when proceeding by grand jury subpoena, which is a method of access exempt from the Act. 12 U.S.C. S3413(i). The certificate of compliance should be presented to the financial institution only when all requirements of the Act have been satisfied.
Even where the Act is not applicable, due to the nature of the records sought or by virtue of an exception, some financial institutions may insist upon government certification as to the Act's inapplicability. Such certification can properly be given. See form DOJ-461 as a suggested form of certificate of compliance.