Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Raises Privacy Concerns with 'Spying' Tactics

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Raises Privacy Concerns with 'Spying' Tactics

The newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be recruiting undercover agents to investigate banks and credit card companies to see if they are engaging in unfair practices.

According to the Washington Times, one recruitment advertisement said investigators were needed to “establish and conduct surveillance activity to develop both intelligence and evidence to further investigations” and to “utilize surveillance activities to identify subjects, their activities and their associates, corroborate source information and collect evidence.”

Investigators will be paid $98,000 to $149,000 per year to spy on various institutions. Inevitably, these investigations will be forced to deal with private business that deal with banks and credit card companies, and that raises privacy concerns. 

A bureau spokeswoman told the Times that the “investigation activities described in the posting are intended to inform our enforcement office about what consumers may experience with different financial products or services.”

The CFPB was set up by Elizabeth Warren, and this is an example of her vision of an all-encompassing federal government that plays favorites. Look for the CFPB to investigate business and institutions Obama can demonize and run against. But the bureau will likely ignore lenders that have been favorable to the administration. 

The CFPB is unlikely to investigate entities like GM, which has engaged in subprime lending practices. Because GM received $50 billion in a taxpayer bailout and is a central part of the Obama campaign’s reelection narrative, the CFPB and Obama, who needs GM to succeed, have been curiously silent about GM Financial’s subprime lending practices.