Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – a U.S. Government agency that enforces the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – plans to propose rules to regulate “data brokers” that track, collect, and monetize information about people under the FCRA, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra announced on August 15, 2023.

“After conducting an inquiry into the practices of data brokers in the surveillance industry, we have decided to launch a rulemaking to ensure that modern-day digital data brokers are not misusing or abusing our sensitive data,” CFPB Director Chopra remarked at a White House roundtable on harmful data broker practices.

“To ensure that modern-day data companies assembling profiles about us are meeting the requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the CFPB will be developing rules to prevent misuse and abuse by these data brokers,” CFPB Director Chopra stated, adding that two proposals under consideration were worth highlighting:

  • First, our rules under consideration will define a data broker that sells certain types of consumer data as a “consumer reporting agency” to better reflect today’s market realities. The CFPB is considering a proposal that would generally treat a data broker’s sale of data regarding, for example, a consumer’s payment history, income, and criminal records as a consumer report, because that type of data is typically used for credit, employment, and certain other determinations. This would trigger requirements for ensuring accuracy and handling disputes of inaccurate information, as well as prohibit misuse.
  • A second proposal under consideration will address confusion around whether so called “credit header data” is a consumer report. Much of the current data broker market runs on personally identifying information taken from traditional credit reports, such as those sold by the big three credit reporting conglomerates – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This includes key identifiers like name, date of birth, and Social Security number that are contained in consumer reports generated by the credit reporting companies. The CFPB expects to propose to clarify the extent to which credit header data constitutes a consumer report, reducing the ability of credit reporting companies to impermissibly disclose sensitive contact information that can be used to identify people who don’t wish to be contacted, such as domestic violence survivors.

CFPB Director Chopra indicated that “the CFPB will publish an outline of proposals and alternatives under consideration for a proposed rule” in September 2023 and they “plan to propose the rule for public comment in 2024.” Any updated rules under the Fair Credit Reporting Act can and will be enforced by the CFPB.

“In 1970, Congress enacted the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which granted people new rights and protections, including safeguards to ensure accurate information, the right to dispute errors, the right to access your own information, and restrictions on how others can use your information,” CFPB Director Chopra explained.

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