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What is Credit Discrimination and Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)?

You may have heard about credit discrimination, but it can be hard to spot when it happens. You can help people protect their rights by sharing information about what lenders can and can’t do under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

From the time a person applies for credit or a loan to when the account is closed, the person is protected from discrimination. ECOA prohibits lenders from discriminating against people based on the characteristics listed below, which are considered “protected”:

  • Race

  • Color

  • Religion

  • National origin

  • Sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)

  • Marital status

  • Age

  • Receiving money from public assistance

Please see PDF attachments below for flyers in English, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

English Credit Discrimination
Download PDF • 235KB
Chinese Credit Discrimination
Download PDF • 495KB
Korean Credit Discrimination
Download PDF • 340KB
Tagalog Credit Discrimination
Download PDF • 366KB
Vietnamese Credit Discrimination
Download PDF • 366KB

The ECOA applies to loans and credit including:
  • Car loans

  • Credit cards

  • Home loans

  • Student loans

  • Business loans

  • Personal loans

What lenders can’t do under the law:
  • Reject a credit application based on a consumer’s protected characteristic

  • Change the credit terms or conditions based on a consumer’s protected characteristic

  • Ask if the consumer receives alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments

  • Ask if the consumer is widowed or divorced

  • Ask for information about a consumer’s spouse, like the spouse’s income

  • Treat a consumer differently based on age

  • Refuse to consider public assistance income the same way as other income

  • Treat consumers less favorably because of sex, sexual orientation, or gender

Warning signs of discrimination:
  • Treated differently in person than on the phone or onlin

  • Discouraged from applying for credit

  • Hearing the lender make negative comments about race, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), or other protected characteristics

  • Refused credit even though they qualify for it based on advertised requirements

  • Offered credit with a higher rate than they applied for, even though they qualify for a lower rate based on advertised requirements

Getting legal help for people who have been discriminated against:

For legal resources listed state by state, visit:

To find out about eligibility for assistance from a Legal Services program funded by the Legal Services Corporation, visit:

Locate your state attorney general’s office:



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