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Credit Discrimination and You

When you apply for credit, creditors may not

  • Discourage you from applying or reject your application because of your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you receive public assistance.
  • Consider your race, sex, or national origin, although you may be asked to disclose this information if you want to. It helps federal agencies enforce anti-discrimination laws. A creditor may consider your immigration status and whether you have the right to stay in the country long enough to repay the debt.
  • Impose different terms or conditions, like a higher interest rate or higher fees, on a loan based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you receive public assistance.
  • Ask if you’re widowed or divorced. A creditor may use only the terms: married, unmarried, or separated.
  • Ask about your marital status if you’re applying for a separate, unsecured account. A creditor may ask you to provide this information if you live in “community property” states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. A creditor in any state may ask for this information if you apply for a joint account or one secured by property.
  • Ask for information about your spouse, except:
    • if your spouse is applying with you;
    • if your spouse will be allowed to use the account;
    • if you are relying on your spouse’s income or on alimony or child support income from a former spouse;
    • if you live in a community property state.
  • Ask about your plans for having or raising children, but they can ask questions about expenses related to your dependents.
  • Ask if you get alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments, unless they tell you first that you don’t have to provide this information if you aren’t relying on these payments to get credit. A creditor may ask if you have to pay alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments.

When deciding to grant you credit or when setting the terms of credit, creditors may not

  • Consider your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status or whether you get public assistance.
  • Consider your age, unless:
    •   you’re too young to sign contracts, generally under 18;
    •   you’re at least 62, and the creditor will favor you because of your age;
    •   it’s used to determine the meaning of other factors important to creditworthiness. For example, a creditor could use your age to determine if your income might drop because you’re about to retire;
    •   it’s used in a valid credit scoring system that favors applicants 62 and older. A credit scoring system assigns points to answers you give on credit applications. For example, your length of employment might be scored differently depending on your age.
  • Consider whether you have a telephone account in your name. A creditor may consider whether you have a phone.
  • Consider the racial composition of the neighborhood where you want to buy, refinance or improve a house with money you are borrowing.

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