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Discrimination Claims in Pennsylvania under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act – Brief Overview

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) makes it unlawful for creditors to discriminate against any credit applicant with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status or age.15 U.S.C. § 1691(a)(1).

The ECOA applies to “every aspect of an applicant’s dealings with a creditor regarding an application for credit or an existing credit extension (including, but not limited to, information requirements; investigation procedures; standards of creditworthiness; terms of credit; furnishing of credit information; revocation , alteration, or termination of credit; and collection procedures).”12 C.F.R. § 202.2(m).

Under the ECOA, a creditor is required to notify an applicant of any action on an application “within 30 days…after receipt of a completed application for credit.”15 U.S.C. § 1691(d)(1).When a creditor takes adverse action against an applicant, such as denying an application for credit, the applicant is entitled to a statement of reasons for such adverse action.15 U.S.C. § 1691(d)(2).

To establish a claim of discrimination under the ECOA, a plaintiff must show that the plaintiff (1) is a member of a protected class; (2) applied for credit from defendant; (3) was qualified for credit; and (4) despite qualification, the plaintiff was denied credit.Chiang v. Veneman, 385 F.3d 256, 259 (3d Cir. 2004), abrog. on other grounds by In re Hydrogen Peroxide Antitrust Litigation, 552 F.3d 305 (3d Cir. 2008).Additionally, because the ECOA applies to every aspect of an applicant’s dealings with a creditor regarding an application for credit or an existing extension of credit, a potential creditor’s refusal to provide an application form to a prospective applicant is also part of a “credit transaction” within the meaning of the ECOA.Chiang, supra at 265.Therefore, “a refusal to provide a loan application on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex or marital status, or age would be a prototypical ECOA violation, as it would deny members of a protected class any access to credit.”Id.

If you believe that you might be a victim of unlawful discrimination under the ECOA, please contact the experienced lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus& Green in Philadelphia at 215-574-0600, who are licensed to practice law in all courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.