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By G. Steven Bray
If you’ve applied for a mortgage recently, you may remember the government monitoring section of the application. The government asks you to identify your sex, race, and ethnicity so it can watch for patterns of unfair lending.
However, it seems the data the government was collecting didn’t provide enough granularity. The data might show more members of a minority group were denied loans, but it provided few insights into the disparity.
The solution – collect more data. Starting in 2018, lenders are required to report more invasive information for every loan applicant, including your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. In addition, lenders must report property values.
The stated goal of this data collection is to ensure fair lending, but it is a bit disconcerting. The CFPB insists the data is anonymized so that individual borrowers cannot be identified. However, privacy advocates worry that the expanded information collection gives nefarious actors enough hints to disaggregate the data. In addition, the data will be housed on government computer systems that have a history of being hacked.
As a consumer, you have no choice whether lenders collect and report the expanded data when you apply for a loan. Your only choice is whether you choose to identify your sex, race, and ethnicity, but that doesn’t stop the lender from reporting your other private financial data.