Equal Credit Opportunity Act
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a United States law (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), enacted in 1974, that makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract); to the fact that all or part of the applicant’s income derives from a public assistance program; or to the fact that the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The law applies to any person who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly participates in a credit decision, including banks, retailers, bankcard companies, finance companies, and credit unions.
Failure to comply with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act's Regulation B can subject a financial institution to civil liability for actual and punitive damages in individual or class actions. Liability for punitive damages can be as much as $10,000 in individual actions and the lesser of $500,000 or 1% of the creditor’s net worth in class actions.
- Dlabay, Les R.; Burrow, James L.; Brad, Brad (2009). Intro to Business. Mason, Ohio: South-Western Cengage Learning. p. 470. ISBN 978-0-538-44561-0. "The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from denying a person credit because of age, race, sex, or marital satus."
- Regulation B, Equal Credit Opportunity 12 CFR 202.14(b) as stated in Closing the Gap: A Guide to Equal Opportunity Lending, Federal Reserve System of Boston.
- Annual Report to Congress on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act – These annual reports by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System discuss actions taken in response to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.