The CFPB is taking a closer look at consumers and the relationship to their financial records — specifically the issues they face in accessing, using, and securely sharing their financial records.
“Consumers should be able to use their financial records and account information and securely share access in an electronic format,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Technology provides opportunities to use these records to create new consumer tools that help improve financial lives. To realize that potential, we are launching a public inquiry into how much control consumers have over their records and how easy and secure it is for them to share their records with third parties.”
The inquiry will focus on consumer choice — how much they have about the use of their records, how much they can demand security in sharing and what tools for control of the information within said records consumers have easily available to them.
The CFPB notes in its release on the upcoming inquiry that between deposits, card use, saving and tapping into a host of other common financial services — consumers create a detailed log of their financial activity — the records of which are generally kept by account issuers like banks and credit unions.
In the past those records have been paper-based — but increasingly that data is available in an all-in-one digital location for customers when they log into their online accounts. That data, the CFPB notes, is not only available to consumers — but also to specific firms they give permission to access said files. And that, the CFPB notes, could create issues, especially if consumers have difficulty accessing that information (a right they are guaranteed by Dodd-Frank) or have difficult sharing it with third party aggregators of their choice.
The CFPB notes that these financial records are often key to emerging services aimed at making it easier, cheaper, or more efficient for consumers to manage their financial lives. The services range from tax help to budgeting advice. The CFPB has concerns that information and control are not uniformly provided across the market. The Bureau seeks information about what information consumers are given about how their records will be accessed and used, how much control they have over the uses, and what rules companies with access must comply with.
The comment period for the public inquiry will end 90 days after it is officially published in the Federal Register.