The Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section enforces the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibits discrimination against persons seeking home mortgages or other credit based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age, or because an applicant receives income from a public assistance program.
For example, in United States v. Fidelity Federal Bank, the Department reached a settlement with a bank in a case alleging, among other violations of ECOA, that the bank collected data on credit applicants’ religious affiliation. In addition to paying compensation to victims denied credit, the settlement requires the implementation of a comprehensive change in policies and provision of fair-lending training to employees.
If you believe that you have been the victim of illegal discrimination with regard to credit, the Department of Justice may initiate a lawsuit where it has reason to believe that a creditor is engaged in a “pattern or practice” of discrimination. If you have information that suggests a pattern or practice of discrimination in credit, please write to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. Individuals who believe that they have been victims of an illegal housing lending practice, such as the denial of a mortgage, that involved credit may file a complaint with HUD. Individual complaints of discrimination are handled by the agencies which regulate the individual creditor.