Did you know that aside from our government tracking your emails and personal information, that they also track your credit card expenditures each and every day, 24/7? What are “they” looking for? This is called credit card data mining. According to officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), whatever government agency that is; conducts data-mining and account information on an estimated 990 million American credit card accounts every day!
This information came out in a Congressional hearing earlier this year. In addition to this, the CFPB officials at the hearing also told Congress that are working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency on a second data-mining effort, this one focused on the 53 million residential mortgages taken out by Americans since 1998. The mortgage information is being compiled in a database that can be “reversed engineered” by computer hackers that look for information for identify theft, according to an expert cited during the hearing.
The revelations came in a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, during which CFPB Director Richard Cordray was repeatedly pressed about federal officials rummaging around in the private financial affairs of millions of Americans. “We are collecting aggregated information,” Mr. Cordray told the committee while defending the bureau’s data-mining efforts.
“Can you, Mr. Cordray, personally guarantee that the consumer information is 100 percent secure?” asked Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas. Cordray replied that he could not, however added that the bureau “attempt[s] to safeguard any information we have about the American public.” Later in the hearing, Neugebauer remarked that CFPB “and NSA are in a contest of who can collect the most information.”
When asked why they do this, the CFPB stated; “because they can.” For the record, the National Security Agency does not ask Americans’ for permission to collect their email, phone or text messages. In addition, Congress’ powers to oversee the CFPB are limited. The federal Dodd-Frank Act that created the bureau requires that the Senate confirm its directors, such as Cordray, and that the director testify before Congress twice a year, but Congress’ authority stops there. The bureau is part of the Federal Reserve, for which Congress similarly confirms top officers but has no direct oversight. Cordray’s nomination to the CFPB director’s post was confirmed by the Senate last year.
According to Steven Antonakes, the bureau’s deputy director, CFPB’s program mines credit card accounts maintained by 18 of the largest card issuers in the United States. In previous testimony before Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s panel, Antonakes said “the combined data represents approximately 85% to 90% of outstanding card balances.”
“Would you object to getting permission from consumers, those people who you work for, before you collect and monitor their information?” Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., asked Cordray.”That would make it impossible to get the data,” Cordray replied.”You can’t even opt out,” Duffy said. “The NSA does not ask Americans’ permission to collect their phone records and emails and texts. The CFPB does not ask permission to collect information on America’s financial consumers.”
Cordray was also questioned on whether CFPB needs to collect so much consumer data.”The CFPB is collecting far more data than is necessary. It is an expensive and it is risky,” said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.
In spite of the back and forth jabbering that went on with the Congressional hearing and the CFPB, the fact remains that “nothing” is private/secret about you any longer.