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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Announces Clamp Down on Discriminatory Lending Practices

On April 18, 2012 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a compliance bulletin announcing its intention to clamp down on discriminatory lending practices.  According to the bulletin, the CFPB plans to use a variety of available legal strategies – including disparate impact claims – to crack down on lenders and other financial institutions whose practices discriminate against consumers.

In the bulletin, the CFPB reiterated its authority to issue guidance about compliance with the fair lending requirements of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), and its corresponding implementation regulation, Regulation B.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2012 (Dodd-Frank) granted the CFPB the authority to enforce and supervise compliance with the ECOA, as well as to issue regulations and interpret the ECOA.

The ECOA makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against a credit applicant on account of race, religion, national origin, marital status, age, receipt of public assistance income, or due to the exercise of a right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.  The ECOA protects consumers from such discriminatory lending practices which can occur when applying for credit cards, car loans, student loans, mortgages, and other lines of credit.

In the bulletin, the CFPB noted that it intends to monitor banks and other financial institutions for lending practices that violate the ECOA, including lending practices that result in a disparate impact or have a discriminatory effect on individuals protected by the ECOA.

Individuals who come forward and report potential violations of the ECOA, including employees of companies that engage in discriminatory lending practices, or employees of contractors, competitors, and vendors of such companies, are protected against retaliation by their employers under Section 1057 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The Employment Law Group® law firm has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice representing employees who have been victims of retaliation for reporting fraud or improper practices, such as discriminatory lending practices.

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