Wyden Urges CFPB to Protect Americans’ Privacy and Stop the Sale of Personal Data by Credit Agencies

Letter Reveals Utility Companies Ended Sale of Customer Data Following Wyden Investigation

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to prevent credit agencies from selling Americans’ private, personal data unrelated to their credit or finances via data brokers.

“These data brokers are serving as shady middlemen to sell this personal information without any legal protections, Wyden wrote CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “CFPB must rein in the sale of Americans’ data by credit agencies for non-credit related purposes.

In February, The Washington Post exposed the purchase and use of private information collected by water, power, phone, cable tv, and other utility companies — including names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers — to government agencies. Equifax sold that information without consumers’ knowledge or consent, in a violation of Americans’ privacy, to data brokers, who in turn sold it to the government. Following the Post report, Wyden began investigating this practice. Wyden’s letter revealed he successfully pressured utility companies to end the sale of their customers’ information to data brokers, but that the credit bureaus are continuing to sell similar data they obtain from banks. Wyden’s letter calls on CFPB to investigate the sale of Americans’ personal data and to issue updated regulations to prohibit the practice.

“Selling personal information that people provide to sign up for power, water and other necessities of life, and giving them no choice in the matter, is an egregious abuse of consumers’ privacy,” Wyden wrote. “The personal privacy of hundreds of millions of people should not depend upon the goodwill of corporations worried about negative headlines caused by a public letter from a U.S. Senator.”

Wyden has long fought to protect everyday Americans’ digital privacy and personal data from big corporations, law enforcement and other agencies. Earlier this year, Wyden introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, which closed the legal loophole that allows data brokers to sell Americans’ personal information to law enforcement and intelligence agencies without any court oversight.

The full letter is here.

A web version of this release is here.