Capito Opening Statement at the Financial Services Subcommittee Hearing

Washington, D.C. – Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (WV-02) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s hearing entitled, “Examining How the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Collects and Uses Consumer Data.”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:  “We are here this morning to learn more about Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s collection and use of consumer’s personal financial data.   Unfortunately, the fact that we need today’s hearing is an important indication of how little meaningful information the CFPB provides to Congress and the public.  The American people have a right to know how this government agency is collecting and using their personal financial data; the CFPB has thus far declined to provide concrete answers to questions that have been asked in public forums.     I hope for a different result this morning.

“This past April, Sen. Crapo, the Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, highlighted the CFPB’s decision to not provide him with the specific number of consumer accounts the agency is monitoring.   Instead, we are forced to rely on accounts from news media outlets that indicate the number of accounts may be as high as 10 million.    For an agency whose initial leader once touted that ‘This consumer bureau belongs to the public, and we’re building it right out in the open – there for anyone to see,’ the refusal to answer this simple question is troubling.    Without definitive answers to this and other basic questions, it is difficult for consumers to determine how much of their financial data is being aggregated by the CFPB.   

“It is critical for American consumers to know why a federal agency is collecting their financial data and how the CFPB is assuring the data that is collected has proper safeguards.    Last year the GAO and the Federal Reserve’s Inspector General found serious deficiencies with the CFPBs systems and controls for the data they and the outside entities they are contracting with are collecting.   More recently, in March of this year the Federal Reserve IG issued a report with nine recommendations for the CFPB to improve the Consumer Response System’s security controls.    I am deeply troubled that not only do we not know how many consumer data files the CFPB has collected, but also that outside entities have expressed such serious concerns about the ability of the CFPB to safeguard this data.   
“I am also concerned about the use and storage of personally identifiable information when collecting consumer data files.   Despite the clear intent of Congress for the CFPB to not collect personally identifiable information, the CFPB acknowledged in a fall 2012 system of records notice that the agency will be collecting personally identifiable information that will be held indefinitely to match data files with other records in order to provide the CFPB with more comprehensive data sets to analyze.   Much like the earlier issues I’ve highlighted, we simply do not know the extent to which the CFPB is collecting, storing, or having outside contractors collect and store consumers personally identifiable information.   
“American consumers deserve answers to these critical questions.    It is my hope that today’s hearing will begin a more transparent discussion of how the CFPB is collecting and using consumer’s data.  Many of us feared that the CFPB would eventually limit the ability of consumers to choose the financial product that best suits their individual needs; however, the prospect of the CFPB watching a consumers every financial decision is even more troubling.   
“I now yield time to Rep. Maloney, for the purposes of making an opening statement.”