It wasn’t all that long ago that lenders blatantly discriminated when it came to approving credit for women and minority groups. Women were actually asked personal and demeaning questions like, how many children do you plan to have in future or are you on birth control?
Despite fact that they were entering workforce in record numbers, single women were often required to get a cosigner or denied credit altogether. Members of minority groups were denied credit as well, even though they were fully qualified.
Today thanks to Equal Credit Opportunity Act, millions of consumers from all walks of life are given and equal chance to obtain and use credit to finance educations, buy or remodel homes or get small business loans.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which was passed by congress in 1973 first banned discrimination in credit access on basis of sex or marital status and was later amended to include race, religion, national origin and age. Of course, this doesn’t mean all consumers who apply for credit get it. Factors such as income, expenses, debt and credit history are considerations for credit worthiness.
But law protects you when you deal with any creditor who regularly extends credit, including banks, small loan and finance companies, retail and department stores, credit card companies, and credit unions. Anyone involved in granting credit, such as real estate brokers who arrange financing, is covered by law. Businesses applying for credit also are protected by law.
When You Apply For Credit, A Creditor May Not.
Discourage you from applying for credit because of your sex, marital status, age, race, national origin, or because you receive public assistance income.
Ask you to reveal your sex, race, national origin, or religion. A creditor may ask you to voluntarily disclose this information, except for religion if you’re applying for a real estate loan. This information helps federal agencies enforce anti discrimination laws. You may be asked about your residence or immigration status.
Ask if you’re widowed or divorced. When permitted to ask marital status, a creditor may only use terms: married, unmarried, or separated.