CBA Letter re H.R. 4648, the Home Mortgage Reporting Relief Act

 

January 8, 2018

 

 

The Honorable Blaine Luetkemeyer

Chairman                                                        

Committee on Financial Services

Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit

U.S. House of Representatives

2230 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515       

The Honorable Lacy Clay

Ranking Member

Committee on Financial Services

Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit

U.S. House of Representatives

2428 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515       

 

           

 Dear Chairman Luetkemeyer and Ranking Member Clay:

 

The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) writes to comment on the January 9th, 2018 hearing, entitled “Legislative Proposals for a More Efficient Federal Financial Regulatory Regime: Part III.”  In particular, CBA appreciates Rep. Tom Emmer’s (R-MN) efforts to address the concerns of our members in crafting H.R. 4648, the Home Mortgage Reporting Relief Act.  This legislation delays the enforcement of and addresses the privacy concerns with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) final Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) rule.  CBA is the voice of the retail banking industry whose products and services provide access to credit to millions of consumers and small businesses.  Our members operate in all 50 states, serve more than 150 million Americans and collectively hold two-thirds of the country’s total depository assets. 

 

The Dodd-Frank Act mandated the expansion of information collected under Regulation C, HMDA’s governing regulation.  However, the CFPB’s final HMDA rule almost tripled the number of data fields and greatly increased the complexity of reporting.  As a result, CBA member banks have invested in new systems in order to be compliant with rule by the Jan. 1, 2018 collecting deadline.  While CBA understands many smaller institutions struggled to meet this deadline, it is critical that any effort to delay the implementation of the rule does not penalize those institutions that have striven to be compliant.  Thankfully, H.R. 4648 acknowledges the many CBA member banks that have prepared for implementation while providing those institutions not yet ready with one-year compliance safe harbors for collecting and reporting.

 

CBA has also long been concerned about the sensitive HMDA data that the CFPB intends to collect, store, and publish.  Consumers buying a home are forced to relinquish their most sensitive information often without understanding this information is being handed over to a governmental agency.  The new data fields are even more sensitive than many of those previously collected, with the addition of credit score, debt to income ratio, and property address, among other new fields.  Assuming HMDA data available today is accurate, attaching a borrower’s name and property address to HMDA data can be achieved in over 80 percent of all cases.[1]  The addition of the new data fields raise the probability to virtually 100 percent.

 

Given the sensitive nature of the expanded HMDA data and the risk of re-identification, CBA strongly believes the new data fields should not be made public unless in aggregate form.  H.R. 4648 recognizes the privacy risks inherent in the CFPB’s rule and protects consumers sensitive consumer information by prohibiting the public release of the expanded data fields unless in aggregate form.

 

Thank you for considering this legislation which addresses CBA members’ concerns related to the implementation of the CFPB’s HMDA rule.  We greatly appreciate this thoughtful approach to ensure banks are not penalized for timely compliance and consumers are protected from criminals attempting to steal their sensitive information.

 

Sincerely,

 

Richard Hunt

President and CEO

Consumer Bankers Association

 

[1] Anthony Yezer, Personal Privacy of HMDA in a World of Big Data, Institute for International Economic

Policy Working Paper Series, IIEP-WP-2017-21 (2017).