The United States is a credit-based society, meaning credit defines what a person can and cannot do. Credit allows people to buy homes, go to school, and build business that helps people to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Credit discrimination makes it so that some people can never access these opportunities.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) makes it illegal for a creditor to discriminate against you in any aspect of a credit transaction on the basis of your race, color, religion, national origin, sex or marital status, your age, and if you receive income from a public assistance program.
You might have a case if a creditor discriminates against you by doing any of the following:
- Offer you credit with unfavorable terms compared to someone else with similar qualifications
- Refuse to you extend you credit if you qualify for it
- Keep you from applying for credit
- Closes your account
It is important to be aware of the warning signs of credit discrimination to prevent it from happening to you.
One way you can protect yourself from credit discrimination is to watch out for any warning signs, no matter how small, that you are being judged for your race, national origin, sex, age, or another protected classes.
When looking into credit discrimination, investigators see if there has been a "pattern" of discrimination against a particular group. For example, investigators will try to find evidence that a significant percentage of certain applicants are being denied credit at a greater rate as compared to other applicants, who are equal in all other factors other than the protected status.
Creditors have to give specific reasons as to why they denied someone credit. Acceptable reasons for denying a credit application include low income, low salary, short employment history, and low credit score. However, vague or indefinite reasons such as not "meeting our minimum standards" are illegal.
Discrimination cases can be very complicated as there are many procedures that must be followed. Additionally, there may be relevant state laws that might help your case. An experienced consumer protection lawyer who is familiar with credit discrimination laws can help you through the process of getting your claim investigated.