Mutual fund companies face the prospect of a new SEC examination next year that has little to do with the agency's traditional scrutiny of securities practices and procedures.

SEC examiners will check fund companies' books to insure that they are complying with new consumer privacy rules that Congress has ordered the agency to adopt. The new rules, which the SEC proposed March 2, require fund companies and financial services firms to adopt a privacy policy and provide a written notice of that policy to investors at least annually.

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