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Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts 264

Posted by timothy
from the but-frogs-love-warm-water dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the Washington Examiner: "Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are conducting a massive, NSA-esque data-mining project collecting account information on an estimated 991 million American credit card accounts. It was also learned at a Congressional hearing Tuesday that CFPB officials are working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency on a second data-mining effort, this one focused on the 53 million residential mortgages taken out by Americans since 1998. ...Later in the hearing, [Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas] remarked that CFPB 'and NSA are in a contest of who can collect the most information,' ... although the CFPB disagreed with that statement. In previous testimony before Rep. Jeb Hensarling's panel, Antonakes said 'the combined data represents approximately 85-90 percent of outstanding card balances.' The Argus contract specifies that the company must collect 96 'data points' from each of the participating card issuers for each credit card account on a monthly basis. The 96 data points include a unique card-account identification reference number, ZIP code, monthly ending balance, borrower's income, FICO score, credit limit, monthly payment amount, and days past due. 'Would you object to getting permission from consumers, those people who you work for, before you collect and monitor their information?' Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., asked Cordray. 'That would make it impossible to get the data,' Cordray replied."
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Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:34PM (#46115095)

    > your account balances and your income, which the IRS is already required to know about.

    The part about account balances is not correct. Your 1099-INT does not contain your account balances. I've worked in a bank for nearly twenty years, and other than when we get court orders, I've never heard of someone giving an account balance to the IRS. I know for a fact there's no automated way for them to get that information since I'm the only person here that could write that code. The interest is reported because you pay taxes on it, but they do not receive the balance.

    > people the right to know what their FICO score is.

    You're wrong again. You do not have the right to know your FICO score. Fair, Isaac, and Company has no legal requirement to tell you their score. You do have the right to a copy of your credit report, but the FICO score is something else entirely.

  • The Basic Problem Is (Score:4, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:46PM (#46115237)

    That YOU HAVE NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY when you disclose data to third parties.

    It's a basic characteristic of the current legal system. It lets the post office accumulate files of the outside of every envelope that passes through their system, it allows the NSA to search metadata associated with every phone call and tcp/ip packet that passes over the internet, and it allows collection of this sort of information without any oversight from the courts.

    It's called the Third Party Doctrine.

    Since modern systems never forget, it means technology has handed government vastly greater surveillance powers.

    The only way to change it is to get laws changed. In some cases, like health care records there are laws that prohibit this. BUT not in general.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @07:09PM (#46115447)

    The first two stories on the front page of Slashdot are based on articles from conservative troll publications, the Washington Examiner and the Daily Mail.

    It's really getting ridiculous around here.

  • Re:Biased Much? (Score:4, Informative)

    by sandytaru (1158959) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @07:10PM (#46115455) Journal
    Making a comment about how having a "unique identifier" for a data set is required to do anything with the data - that is, Database 101 - is blowing smoke? I can think of 96 data points pretty easily, none of which will require the person's name, SSN, or credit card number. Zip code, age, income level, interest rate, card level, total outstanding debt, number of other credit cards, years on credit history, credit card max, number of credit card increases, number of credit history inquiries, education level, total number of purchases, interest rate changes, total number of late payments, total amount of later fees, annual fees, bonus points available, bonus points earned, total number of cards issue, total number of fraud inquiries, total number of document fraud reimbursements amount of fraud reimbursements, total purchases, average number of purchases a month - and then break each of those things that are variables down by the last five years per card. Bam, you're at well over a hundred.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:59PM (#46116131)

    Are you saying, given a name I could arbitrarily pull up credit transactions for that person?

    How do you think credit reporting bureaus get their information? Have you never gotten a "pre-approved" offer of credit?

    I do not think so. The fact that I cannot means that data is private.

    It's not private, it's profitable. The only laughable privacy Americans have with respect to credit cards is what little Congress has granted to shut up the few Americans who've noticed.

    Why do you think the credit card issuers themselves are collecting and storing all this information to begin with?

    Now credit card company can share that data with whoever it likes - in private - so long as I agree to that, which we all do in credit card agreements. But just because there is a subset of people who can see it, does not mean it is not private...

    If you care to read that agreement carefully, you'll note that your bank has exclusive say over who it can or won't share that information with, and can change the terms (if they were to ever get in the way) with little or no notice to you. It's nothing but "We promise to sell everything only to the highest bidder."

    And what are you going to do if they even do violate their own terms? Press your case in the mandatory individual arbitration you "agreed" to?

    They could do the job they need to with a much broader and filtered overview of data.

    And who sets up the filters, the very banks the CFPB is supposed to be policing?

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:03PM (#46116501)

    Unless there's an annual fee, there's no good reason to close them, so they sit in the safe.

    In fact, depending on your financial situation, it may actually hurt your credit scores to close them.

    Nobody knows the exact details of how the FICO algorithm works, but one significant component is your "debt-to-credit ratio." To take a simple example -- if, say, you have $4,000 in credit card debt, but a $10,000 limit, you have a credit utilization of 40%.

    Technically, they do this with installment loans too (like car payments, mortgages, etc.), but as long as you don't have late payments on them, there's little chance that it will hurt you even if you still owe quite a bit.

    So, the discussion is usually mostly around revolving credit, which for most people is credit cards. From people who have tried to figure out the FICO algorithm (as much as possible), it seems clear that it's generally a bad idea to hold more than 25 to 30% of the credit limit on any given credit card.

    But this also applies to your collective available credit limit as well, which is where those extra cards can come in. Keep in mind that even if you pay off your balances every month, the statement balances still generally show up on your credit report -- so if you charge $5,000 every month but pay it off, it still looks like you're carrying roughly a $5,000 balance.

    And if you only have $10,000 in revolving credit, that looks bad (50% credit utilization). But if you have a few other cards laying around that you never use, and your total limit is more like $50,000 or $100,000, that looks very good.

    Important points: (1) This isn't going to make or break your credit score for most people, but if the debt-to-credit ratio is really off, it could hurt it by 50 points or more. So, (2) Think twice before cancelling any high-limit cards, if you don't have a lot of credit in general. There's no good reason to hold onto a store card with a $500 limit for most people, but getting rid of that $25,000 limit card you never use could actually make a dent in your credit score, depending on the rest of your finances.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)