What do I do if I think a lender discriminated against me? | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2024)

Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, it is illegal for a creditor or lender to discriminate against you based on a number of factors. The law applies to most loans, including auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, and student loans, among others.

The factors include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)
  • Marital status
  • Age (if the applicant is old enough to enter into a contract)
  • Receiving income from any public assistance program – this includes Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), unemployment, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Exercising in good faith a right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which includes consumer protection laws relating to credit

For most mortgage loans, the lender is allowed to ask about your race, ethnicity, and sex to comply with anti-discrimination laws.

State or local law could prohibit discrimination on additional grounds.

This means that a creditor may not use any of the factors listed above as a reason to:

  • Refuse you credit if you qualify for it
  • Discourage you from applying for credit
  • Provide you credit on terms that are different from the terms given to someone else who is in a similar situation as yours, such as having similar credit scores
  • Close your existing account

Marital status

If you are applying for a loan in your own name, a creditor may not deny you credit because of your marital status. If you meet the lender’s standards for your credit score, you may get your own credit, and a creditor generally may not require that your spouse co-sign your account.

Generally, a creditor is allowed to ask for information about your spouse or former spouse only when:

  • Your spouse or former spouse is responsible for paying debts on the account
  • You are relying on your spouse’s income or former spouse’s income to repay the loan you are applying for
  • You are relying on alimony, child support, or maintenance payments from a spouse or former spouse to repay the loan you are applying for

Sex or gender

A creditor generally may not ask you about your sex or gender, or the sex or gender of a co-signer on an application form. However, a creditor may ask you to select a title (Mr., Miss, Mrs., or Ms.) on the application form, if the form states this is optional.

Citizenship or national origin

A creditor cannot discriminate on the basis of national origin. However, a creditor may ask about your immigration status or status as a permanent resident, or immigration status or status as a permanent resident of any co-signer. A lender is allowed to consider other information that could affect the lender's ability under the law to make sure the loan is repaid.

A creditor may also take into account laws, regulations, and executive orders that limit dealings with citizens of certain countries. But they cannot use immigration status to justify discriminating against you based on your national origin, race, or other protected characteristics.


Generally, a creditor cannot use your age to make credit decisions. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

For example, age can be considered in a valid credit scoring system. A creditor may also relate your age to other information about you that they use to evaluate your credit, such as your lack of job history.

Children or dependents

A creditor can ask about the number and ages of your dependents. They can also ask about dependent-related financial obligations or expenses. However, a creditor can do this only if they ask for this information without regard to sex or marital status (or any other prohibited basis).

A creditor cannot ask you about your birth control practices. A creditor also cannot ask about your intentions to have or raise children or about your capability to have children.

Income from alimony or child support

A creditor can consider your income from child support or alimony. The creditor can also consider the amount of payments and the likelihood that payments will continue. This means they can consider factors such as whether there is a written agreement or court decree, how long and how regularly you or your co-signer have been receiving payments, and the credit standing of the person paying you child support or alimony, when that information is available.

Income from a public assistance program

A creditor cannot discriminate against you because you (or your co-signer) receive or have received public assistance income.

Like any other income, a creditor can consider whether you or your co-signer’s public assistance income is likely to continue. If that income is not likely to continue, that fact can be considered in determining whether to lend to you.

You are entitled to receive information about negative credit decisions

If your loan application is turned down, or if you receive an offer that is less favorable than the loan you applied for, you should receive information about why you were denied. This is called an “adverse action notice.” The notice includes a statement of the specific reasons for the denial, or a notice that you may request a statement of specific reasons within 60 days.

Watch for warning signs

Credit discrimination is often hidden or even unintentional, which makes it hard to spot. Look for red flags, such as:

  • You are treated differently in person than on the phone
  • You are discouraged from applying for credit
  • You hear the lender make negative comments about race, national origin, sex, or other protected characteristics
  • You are refused credit even though you qualify for it
  • You are offered credit with a higher rate than the one you applied for, even though you qualify for the lower rate
  • You are denied credit, but not given a reason why or told how to find out why
  • Your deal sounds too good to be true
  • You feel pushed or pressured to sign

Learn more about fair lending.

What do I do if I think a lender discriminated against me? | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2024)


What do I do if I think a lender discriminated against me? | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? ›

If you believe a lender discriminated against you, you can submit a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or with the CFPB online or by calling 1-855-411-CFPB (2372). You can also file a complaint with your state attorney general or state consumer protection office .

Does filing a complaint with CFPB do anything? ›

Consistent with applicable law, we securely share complaints with other state and federal agencies to, among other things, facilitate: supervision activities, enforcement activities, and. monitor the market for consumer financial products and services.

What is an example of discrimination in lending? ›

Examples of Lending Discrimination

Providing a different customer service experience to mortgage applicants depending on their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, national origin or disability.

What is the Lending Discrimination Act? ›

Lending Discrimination Statutes and Regulations

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits discrimination in any aspect of a credit transaction. It applies to any extension of credit, including extensions of credit to small businesses, corporations, partnerships, and trusts.

How do I report mortgage discrimination? ›

If you believe a lender has discriminated against you for any reason, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372). You'll need the dates, amounts, and other details about your complaint before submitting.

Do banks take CFPB complaints seriously? ›

The complaints may be vague and unsupported but banks have to take them seriously, he said. If the CFPB decides to take an enforcement action based on complaints, legal costs for banks defending action can be tens of millions of dollars a month.

What is a CFPB violation? ›

When a financial institution, individual, or other entity subject to the CFPB's authority breaks the law, the CFPB may take enforcement action against them. In certain cases, the CFPB may partner with other federal, state, or local agencies to investigate the wrongdoing and coordinate the enforcement action.

What are three types of lending discrimination? ›

There are three types of lending discrimination:
  • → Overt.
  • → Disparate impact.
  • → Disparate treatment.
  • Speak with your lender's manager.
  • File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
  • File a complaint with the U.S. Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO).
Apr 15, 2022

What are 2 examples of fair lending violations? ›

For example, if a lender refuses to make a mortgage loan because of your race or ethnicity, or if a lender charges excessive fees to refinance your current mortgage loan based on your race or ethnicity, the lender is in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

What two acts prohibit discrimination against loan applicants? ›

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) protect consumers by prohibiting unfair and discriminatory practices.

What are lenders allowed to discriminate based on? ›

The law makes it illegal for creditors to discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because all (or part) of a person's income comes from public assistance or because the applicant has in good faith exercised a right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

What is predatory lending? ›

Predatory lending is any lending practice that uses deceptive or unethical means to convince you to accept a loan under unfair terms or to accept a loan that you don't actually need.

What is evidence of disparate impact? ›

By its nature, “disparate impact” evidence involves showing a disparity. Plaintiff must show that the extent of harm the policy or practice causes minorities and non-minorities is different.

What is the most commonly reported complaint related to mortgage lending? ›

Poor communication, or a lack of responsiveness, is the most common complaint in the mortgage lending process.

What are the three main fair lending regulations? ›

Fair Lending Laws/Regulations
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) This law affects every phase of the lending process and prohibits discrimination on the basis of: ...
  • Fair Housing Act (FHA) ...
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) ...
  • Civil Rights Act of 1866. ...
  • Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)

How to report predatory lending? ›

Report Abusive Lenders

Report your experience to the Federal Trade Commission. It watches out for predatory lending scams and frauds. Call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357), Write to Federal Trade Commission, CRC-240, Washington, D.C. 20580.

Does the CFPB really help consumers? ›

We protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and take action against companies that break the law. We arm people with the information, steps, and tools that they need to make smart financial decisions.

Does the CFPB have any power? ›

The CFPB supervises a range of companies to assess their compliance with federal consumer financial laws. We have supervisory authority over banks, thrifts, and credit unions with assets over $10 billion, as well as their affiliates.

How effective is the CFPB? ›

Here's a look at some of the CFPB's achievements, by the numbers: $17.5 billion – The amount of money the CFPB has put back in Americans' pockets in the form of monetary compensation, principal reductions, canceled debts, and other consumer relief resulting from CFPB enforcement and supervision work.

What actions can the CFPB take? ›

The Bureau may enforce the law by filing an action in federal district court or by initiating an administrative adjudication proceeding. Administrative proceedings are conducted by an Administrative Law Judge, who holds hearings and issues a recommended decision.


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