Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) agreed to review the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) collection and analysis of consumer credit records in response to a request from Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID).  In a letter to the GAO Comptroller General, Sen. Crapo requested that the GAO investigate “CFPB’s data collection to determine its purpose, scope and intended use; specific legal authority pursuant to which the CFPB is collecting consumers’ data; how the CFPB secures and protects information it collects; the purchase and use of data from third parties and contractors; and the cost of this data collection for both the CFPB and the institutions that are providing information.”

The CFPB is analyzing data to help the agency better educate consumers, enable coordination with other regulators, facilitate efforts to craft rules based on an examination of costs and benefits, and to provide meaningful reports to Congress.  The CFPB will analyze the records of some 5 million Americans in a number of policy research projects, including surveys on particular products.  Individual consumers will not be identifiable in the data analysis, although consumers will be assigned a unique identifier to enable the CFPB to follow consumers over time. 

In a letter to Sen. Crapo, the GAO Managing Director for Congressional Relations indicated that the GAO would look into the CFPB’s data collection practices “shortly.”