CFPB Director Cordray Defends Consumer Data Collection Practice

On Wednesday, July 15, CFPB Director Richard Cordray assured the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, as well as the public, that data collected by the CFPB could not be used to personally identify any consumer. A September report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the CFPB collects information on 700,000 car loans, 29 million active mortgages and 25 to 75 million credit card accounts each month. According to Cordray, the information was only collected to broadly survey markets, the same way the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics develops monthly jobs reports.

At the hearing, several Senate Republicans voiced concerns that the information collected could be used to identify the spending patterns of consumers. Senator David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana, questioned whether Cordray would support legislation that would allow consumers to annually request from the CFPB any personal data that has been collected on them.

According to Cordray, this would be unworkable in practice. “Typically the data that we’re collecting, we wouldn’t even be able to tell you which citizen is what,” he said. “We’re trying to be very careful about it . . . . I read and see the stories about the National Security Agency. . . . But I think that’s very different than what we’re talking about here.”