Surprise! Add this gov't agency to the list of ones that are monitoring everything you do
Let's just accept that they're all spying on us. It gives them something to do.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is supposed to watch over banks, lenders, and other financial institutions. So why are they so intent on watching you, the consumer? This is one of the questions that Congressional leaders would like to have answered, and that remains unanswered following a hearing by the House Financial Services Committee.
Richard Cordray CFPB Director is yet to explain why his agency is monitoring your credit card transactions.
The CFPB has implemented a "markets monitoring" program, which is actually just an artfully named data collection scheme. The Washington Examiner cited the Census Bureau, saying there are 1.16 billion credit cards in use in 2012.
The CFPB has a stated goal of monitoring at least 80 percent of the transactions made with those cards. The agency also wants to monitor 95 percent of all mortgage transactions, according to the Washington Examiner.
The question is why they feel the need to monitor the individual habits of millions of consumers.
"This is one step closer to a Big Brother form of government where they know everything about us," said Rep. Sean Duffy, (R-WI).
According to CFPB Director, the Bureau monitors the transactions from 110 banks, including Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, Discover and American Express.
House representatives appear to be suggesting by their inquiries that the CFPB has exceeded its authority by collecting the data on consumers.
The CFPB was formed as part of the financial reforms following the 2008 recession, and was a key part of the Frank-Dodd act. However, the agency is supposed to examine the behavior of banks and ensure consumer protections. It remained unclear after the hearing why they were collecting the data.
Rep. Duffy challenged Cordray directly, asking "Why don't you just level with us?" According to Duffy, the CFPB is trying to collect information on a billion credit cards and how consumers use them.
Prior to 2013, the private monitoring of our behavior was thought to be within the realm of marketing. Americans were concerned that big businesses and marketing firms were collecting and processing our personal information with help from websites such as Facebook, to sell us targeted products.
Most Americans had issues with this level of intrusion, but ultimately chose to accept it as part of the cost of being engaged in social networks. Social network usage continues unabated.
However, this year Americans have become aware that their own government has a monitoring program that is far more comprehensive and capable than ever imagined. And they're learning that multiple agencies, with varying briefs, are also collecting data, sometimes as part of a concerted effort and at other times, independently.
None of these collection schemes sit well with Americans. Some schemes may violate the 4th Amendment.
Yet, Americans continue to use social networks, unencrypted email, credit cards, and other forms of communications and transaction that reveals their most intimate dealings to private third parties and the government.
A Congressional investigation of the CFPB is likely forthcoming.
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