SEPTEMBER 24, 2014
The agency created by President Obama to warrantlessly collect the private financial information of millions of Americans fails to adequately protect the data and must boost security, according to a federal audit conducted with Judicial Watch’s assistance.
Truth is the agency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), shouldn’t even exist. It’s a highly controversial and out-of-control government bureaucracy that threatens the fundamental privacy and financial security of Americans. It was launched in mid-2011 by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was born in an atmosphere of secrecy and cover-up, has refused to disclose information about the scope of its program to Congress and doesn’t abide by federal public-records laws.
The CFPB collects and monitors financial data on American citizens without their knowledge and spreads it throughout the entire system of government. This includes information about mortgages, credit cards, auto sales and student loan transactions. The agency has spent millions of dollars to do this, mainly by hiring private companies to gather, store and share the data for years to come. JW has been a leader in investigating the CFPB and has obtained records illustrating the scope of this unscrupulous collection of hundreds of millions of credit card accounts. The goal, according to records obtained by JW, is to acquire and maintain a panel of credit information on consumers for use in a wide range of policy research projects.
It took an act of Congress to obtain information about the CFPB’s secretive operations, according to the lawmaker who chairs the House Financial Services Committee. The “unaccountable CFPB would not answer our questions,” said the committee chair, Jeb Hensarling of Texas. So Congress passed legislation requiring the bipartisan investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to launch a probe. Additionally, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both branches of Congress requested a GAO investigation into this scandalous agency.
This week the GAO issued its findings in a lengthy report that reveals the CFPB has no written guidelines and that its mission in the early years of harassing, intimidating and regulating the market took precedence. Judicial Watch assisted the GAO in this important probe. In fact, Chris Farrell, JW’s Director of Investigations and Research, was interviewed at the independent agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters for over an hour. Well known for delivering its findings diplomatically, the GAO cites weaknesses with the CFPB’s data security and privacy.
“The CFPB’s massive data collection effort is an unwarranted, unwelcome intrusion into the private financial lives of millions of Americans,” said Senator Mike Crapo, one of the lawmakers who requested the probe. “This GAO report confirms what the Bureau would not—that it has been collecting information on up to 600 million American financial accounts, and it does not have the proper safeguards in place to protect the information it is collecting. At a time when data and identity-related crimes are at an all-time high, the last thing the American people need is one more federal agency collecting their private financial information.”
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