When he appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on April 23, Director Cordray was questioned by Republican Senators about reports that the CFPB was demanding voluminous amounts of information from banks it supervises related to financial products and services and buying data from vendors about various financial products and services.  At the hearing, Mr. Cordray vigorously defended the CFPB’s data collection efforts as necessary for informing its rulemaking and other statutory mandates. 

Mr. Cordray continued to defend those efforts in a May 23 letter responding to supplemental questions sent by Ranking Committee Member Mike Crapo following the hearing.  Rejecting claims that the CFPB is engaged in a “Big Data initiative,” Mr. Cordray repeated his assertion that the information being collected by the CFPB “is critical in order to supervise and regulate financial markets intelligently, protect consumers and honest businesses from unscrupulous activities, and help ensure the stability of the financial system and of the economy generally.”  According to Mr. Cordray, neither the information the CFPB is collecting from “market participants” for purposes of creating the National Mortgage Database or purchasing from vendors includes personally identifiable information.  As a result, he claims “no disclosure of personally identifiable information by the Bureau is possible, because we do not have such information.”  

In his letter, Mr. Cordray discusses the CFPB’s authority to collect information directly from financial service providers to perform its supervisory and enforcement activities and purchase information from vendors.  Among the sources of the CFPB’s data collection authority cited by  Mr. Cordray  is the CFPB’s authority under Section 1022 of the Dodd-Frank Act “to gather information from time to time regarding the organization, business conduct, markets, and activities of covered persons and service providers.”  As we reported, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a June 19 letter to Mr. Cordray, has charged that the CFPB’s data collection efforts do not comply with Section 1022 of the Dodd-Frank Act because the CFPB has not issued a rule or order requiring companies to provide the information it has been demanding.  According to a June 21 Bloomberg report by Carter Dougherty, those charges were refuted by a CFPB spokeswoman who indicated that the provision referenced by the Chamber does not apply to the CFPB’s collection of information from entities it supervises.