Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a United States law passed in 28th October 1974 in order to provide equal opportunities for all people to receive loans and other forms of credit from financial institutions and other lenders. The law applies to any individual who, in the customary course of business, routinely partakes in a credit choice, including banks, retailers, bankcard organizations, account organizations, and credit associations. The law makes it illegal for creditors to discriminate on the basis of race, faith, color, national origin, marital status, sex, or age against any applicant. In addition, it forbids discrimination against those who obtain their income, in part or entirely, from public assistance programs. Failure to comply with the regulations warrants a penalty.

Accompanied by other government departments, the Consumer Financial Security Bureau monitors enforcement and enforces ECOA. The aim of the law was to end unfair discrimination, as well as provide economically backward sections of society with an equal playing field. The specific law is 15 U.S.C. ยง1691.

Example of Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

The legislation describes those theories mentioned below:

  • Adverse action
  • Non-discrimination
  • Civil liability

The previously mentioned ideas are fundamental to the working of the law. The act (ECOA), as actualized by Regulation B, expresses that people applying for advances and other credit must be assessed utilizing factors that are straightforwardly identified with their reliability. The ECOA notes, among other items, that it is illegal for creditors to:

  • Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, national origin, or marital status or because public assistance is earned.
  • Get some information about conjugal status if a competitor is applying for discrete, unstable credit, with one exemption: one can be gotten some information about conjugal status in the event that one lives in a network property state. Regardless of what the condition of a home is, joint (credit shared by a wedded couple) or acknowledge made sure about for property is excluded from this.
  • Ask the applicant if they are planning to have children or additional children, but creditors will ask about the number, ages, and financial obligations of all current children.
  • Forbid normal types of revenue, for example, dependable veteran’s advantages, government assistance installments, Social Security installments, provision, kid uphold, and so on Nor may they won’t consider or limit any pay procured from low maintenance work, annuity, annuity, or retirement benefits program.

The law refers to every credit-extending entity, including banks, small credit, and finance firms, retail and department stores, credit card companies, and credit unions. It also refers to, for example, real estate brokers who arrange funding, everyone involved in the decision to approve a loan or set its terms. The ECOA covers different sorts of credit, including individual advances, Mastercards, home advances, understudy loans, vehicle advances, independent venture advances, and advance adjustments. Unfriendly activity against the candidate is an activity by the lender that adversely influences the borrower. It is a breach of the law if such an action is based on one of the features specified in the act. ECOA explains what constitutes as an adverse action as:

  • Deny credit or remove existing credit on the basis of the features listed
  • Changing current credit conditions in a way that is unfavorable to the borrower, e.g. raising the interest rate if any form of public assistance is obtained by the borrower
  • Providing credit that varies significantly in the amount and terms sought by the borrower

At the point when a borrower applies for credit, the loan specialist may get some information about a portion of the individual realities that are denied by the ECOA for use in settling on loaning choices. Although these questions will not be used in the approval analysis and it is optional to answer them, this information helps federal agencies implement anti-discrimination laws.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) states that creditors must:

  • Provide notice of the action taken within 30 calendar days of receipt of the completed application to the claimant, unless such exceptions apply. Such notices of action taken are often expected to be in writing, while oral notification meets the requirements of the Regulation in other situations.
  • Provide the precise explanation of why one is refused credit or given credit in a manner different from the conditions to which it originally applied. This equivalent principle applies if a lender shuts the record, won’t expand a credit extension, rolls out a negative improvement in the particulars of the credit and doesn’t roll out similar improvement for different purchasers, or will not give credit at the equivalent, or roughly the equivalent, terms as were offered when the credit was at first applied for.

Special cases that use one of the above features but are not considered discrimination are specified by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The cases listed below are:

  • Asking for marital status as part of the request as long as the marital status does not have a negative effect on the decision
  • Asking for age does not count as discrimination as part of the request
  • Asking the candidate the measure of public help got by them and the amount it adds to their complete pay
  • Using age as a factor in a statistically sound credit risk model, given that the elderly are not discounted
  • Usage of age only when it is in favor of the claimant in the decision-making process

If the DOJ or any partner agencies recognize a pattern of discrimination, lenders found in breach of the ECOA will theoretically face class-action litigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). In a class-action case, a plaintiff may sue a creditor either personally or in a collective for damages.


Information Sources:

  1. investopedia.com
  2. corporatefinanceinstitute.com
  3. wikipedia