Hultgren Reintroduces Bill to Protect Sensitive Financial Information of Homeowners
Washington, DC — U.S. Representatives Randy Hultgren (IL-14) and Andy Barr (KY-06) have reintroduced legislation to protect against the misuse of consumers’ sensitive financial information. The federal government is already making sensitive mortgage information available online and has plans to more than double the information that is published—putting even more personal information at risk of abuse.
H.R. 2204, the Homeowner Information Privacy Protection Act (HIPPA), would require the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study regarding the impact on consumer privacy resulting from information made publicly available under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA).
“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing to expose my constituents’ sensitive information, such as credit scores, on an obscure page of a government website. This is far from consumer protection,” said Rep. Hultgren. “Experts understand that connecting the dots between such ‘anonymized’ information and the specific individual is too easy and puts their information and finances at risk of abuse. Federal regulators should not put the personal information of American homeowners at unnecessary risk. The Homeowner Information Privacy Protection Act requires an independent study to ensure Americans are protected before regulators make new information available to the public.”
Sounding the Alarm on Consumer Privacy
Even before the information being collected about mortgage applicants more than doubled in 2015, academics and policymakers raised privacy concerns:
“Approximately 95 percent of loan records are ‘unique,’ meaning loan amount and census tract can be attributed to a single person. With a cross match to private lien transfer records, one can identify these individuals in 95 percent of the cases.”
Glenn Canner, former Federal Reserve Board Senior Advisor in March 14, 2005 speech
“Privacy in HMDA data: there is none.”
Anthony Yezer, Director of the Center for Economic Research at the George Washington University
“If all information reported on the LAR [Loan Application Register] were publicly disclosed in an unedited format, some information could potentially be used to identify individual applications and borrowers and possibly harm their privacy interests.”
Small Business Review Panel Report for Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Rulemaking
The CFPB finalized a rule on October 15, 2015, mandating a number of additional reporting requirements about mortgage information. The final rule adds 25 new data points and modifies 14 others in addition to the existing nine data fields that lenders were already required to report under HMDA. Some of this data includes borrower age, credit score, property value, and interest rate. New data will be collected starting January 1, 2018 and reported March 1, 2019. The final rule does not stipulate what information will be made publicly available.