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Judicial Watch obtains records on controversial CFPB data collection program

cfpbJudicial Watch announced last week that it obtained CFPB records that show the agency has spent millions of dollars on the “warrantless” collection and analysis of American consumers’ financial records and that agency contractors may be required to share the information.

“The Obama administration’s warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing,” JW President Tom Fitton said. “Is there anything that this administration thinks it can’t do? These documents show that the Consumer Financial Protection Board is an out-of-control government agency that threatens the fundamental privacy and financial security of Americans. This is every bit as serious as the controversy over the NSA’s activities.”

The documents showed a number of overlapping contracts with multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store and share credit card data.

The CFPB enlisted the services of Argus Information & Advisory Services in a contract valued at $2.9 million. The agency also had an “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” contract with Experian valued at up to $8.4 million to track the habits of consumers without their knowledge or consent, as well as a $5 million contract with Deloitte consulting for software and instruction.

Additionally, the documents showed a contractual provision stipulating that a contractor would be able to obtain confidential, proprietary or personally identifiable information that the contractor “may be required to share…with additional government entities as directed by the Contracting Officer’s Representative.”

Judicial Watch also obtained a document on the IDIQ’s objective: “The CFPB seeks to acquire and maintain a nationally representative panel of credit information on consumers for use in a wide range of policy research projects…”

In order to meet the objective, the CFPB said the panel would include five million consumers, joint borrowers, co-signers and authorized users. The initial panel would contain 10 years of data on a quarterly basis, and the initial sample would be drawn from current records and historical data, as well as samples during intervening years.

The CFPB’s data collection program has been a hot topic since agency Director Richard Cordray spoke on it at an April hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce accused the watchdog of breaking the law by demanding data without a warrant.

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