In Judicial Watch’s effort to follow the law and uncover the truth behind what your government is not telling you, JW obtained information concerning the activities of a new federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which is every bit as alarming as the information disclosed by the fugitive NSA leaker, Edward Snowden.
According to records Judicial Watch obtained from CFPB, the agency has spent millions of dollars for the warrantless collection and analysis of Americans’ financial transactions. The documents also reveal that CFPB contractors may be required to share the information with “additional government entities.”
Judicial Watch received the records pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on April 24, 2013, following the April 23 Senate Banking Committee testimony of CFPB Director Richard Cordray. The documents uncovered by Judicial Watch include:
- Overlapping contractswith multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data as shown in the task list of a contract with Argus Information & Advisory Services LLC worth $2.9 million
- Deloitte Consulting: solicitation issue date 11/30/2011, award effective date 05/29/2012;
- Argus: solicitation issue date 02/14/2012, award effective date 03/15/2012;
- Experian: solicitation issue date 07/03/2012, award effective date 09/24/2012
- An “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” contract with Experian worth up to $8,426,650 to track daily consumer habits of select individuals without their awareness or consent
- A provision stipulating that “The contractor recognizes that, in performing this requirement, the Contractor may obtain access to non-public, confidential information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), or proprietary information.”
- A stipulation that “The Contractor may be required to share credit card data collected from the Banks with additional government entities as directed by the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR).”
The full extent of the CFPB personal financial data collection program is revealed in a document obtained by Judicial Watch entitled “INDEFINITE-DELIVERY INDEFINITE-QUANTITY (IDIQ) STATEMENT OF WORK.” The statement issued by CFPB Contracting Officer Xiaoling Ang on July 3, 2012, the IDIQ document’s stated 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… The panel shall be a random sample of consumer credit files obtains from a national database of credit files.”
The panel shall include 5 million consumers, and joint borrowers, co-signers, and authorized users [emphasis added]. The initial panel shall contain 10 years of historical data on a quarterly basis [emphasis added]. The initial sample shall be drawn from current records and historical data appended for that sample as well as additional samples during the intervening years [emphasis added] to make the combines sample representative at each point in time.
The CFPB data collection program has been highly controversial since the April 2013 hearing, when Cordray disclosed elements of the venture at a Senate Banking Committee hearing. At the time, the US Chamber of Commerce accused the CFPB of breaking the law by demanding the account-level data without a warrant or National Security Letter.