Topics: CFPB

Senator seeks info on data mining by government’s new consumer protection bureau

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Beltway Confidential,Susan Ferrechio,Government,PennAve,CFPB,Analysis,Data Mining

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, wants to know what kind of data about the financial habits of Americans is being collected by the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Crapo, who is the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office, asking for an analysis of the CFPB’s data collecting.

Many House and Senate Republicans are wary of the CFPB, which was created under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill that many of them opposed. The agency is headed by Richard Cordray, who was appointed during a Senate recess over the objections of Republicans, who said the Senate was not officially in recess and the appointment is therefore invalid.

Crapo said the CFPB has allocated $20 million for the collection of information on the spending habits of millions of people, though CFPB officials say the information is not identifiable to individuals.

Crapo wants the GAO to determine the “purpose, scope and intended use,” of the data, the collection of which could pose a security risk, he added in the letter.

According to Crapo, the CFPB mining includes the personal credit card, banking, student loan and mortgage information of millions of Americans.

“The size and scope of this data collection warrant proper government oversight to both guard consumers’ privacy and ensure that the CFPB is acting within its existing authority,” Crapo wrote.

Among the questions Crapo wants the CFPB to answer: “How many accounts are being monitored and how many Americans?”

In May, Cordray sent a letter to Crapo addressing his concerns about the data collecting, telling the senator the information being collected “allows us to better educate consumers, enables our coordination with other regulators, facilitates our efforts to craft tailored rules based on careful examination of costs and benefits, and allows us to provide meaningful reports to Congress.”

Cordray added that the CFPB staff, “has determined that we have the authority and indeed the obligation to gather and utilize data in order to do the work that Congress has directed us to perform.”

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