A Republican senator has requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s data collection effort following a WatchDog report on the millions of dollars the bureau is spending to gather information on consumers.
U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Ida.), a ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, sent a letter to the GAO Comptroller General on July 2 requesting the investigation.
The CFPB has allocated more than $20 million for collecting and tracking the spending habits of more than 10 million Americans, according to news reports, the senator noted, but other information indicates the bureau’s data collection may be “far greater” than that.
“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 in the letter.
The Dodd-Frank Act, the law that established the CFPB, prohibits gathering or analyzing the personally identifiably financial information (PII) of consumers except for very limited purposes, the senator continued.
“While CFPB officials have stated the CFPB is not collecting PII, we do not know what information it collects, on how many accounts, or how this information is being used,” said Crapo. “We also need to know whether the CFPB is truly not collecting PII from the data it is collecting or purchasing…. We need to know what safeguards are in place to prevent the collection or use of the data it is collecting.”
The senator also attached a list of specific issues for the GAO to consider, under headings that include statutory limitations and legal authority of the CFPB; the scope and purpose of the data collection effort; privacy; data security; and cost-benefit analysis.
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