The purpose of the CRA is to help encourage financial institutions, such as banks, to provide for the credit needs of all communities, including low-income and middle-income communities. Essentially what happens is that the Office of Comptroller of Currency (OCC) collects data on the investment, lending, and service practices of each bank branch and then assesses how these aspects of the branch add up to the needs of the community the branch exists in. What the Act is meant to do is make sure you get a fair chance at obtaining credit no matter where you live.

How is the Act Enforced?

After the (OCC) gathers information on each branch, it makes a report that assesses how well that branch of a particular bank is meeting the needs of the community. This report is taken into consideration by the FDIC anytime a bank makes a request to open a new branch or transfer the location of a particular branch. In other words, since banks will want to expand and change locations to better their business, they will be motivated to abide by this act.

Is the OCC Assessment Available to Me?

Yes, the OCC makes their report of each bank available to the general public. The report will contain a rating of how the bank has performed in meeting the credit needs of its consumers in the community. You should take a look at this report before you decide to become a customer at a certain bank because it will help you assess how you may be treated as a customer at that bank.

What Should I Do if I Feel My Bank is Not Doing its Part to Comply with the CRA?

The OCC encourages members of all communities to report any complaints a customer may have about the lending practices of a bank branch. In addition, if you feel you have been the victim of lender discrimination, you may want to contact a financial attorney who has experience with borrower’s rights. Your attorney can advise you of your rights and let you know if you are entitled to any money damages in a lawsuit against the bank.