What creditors may or may not ask you
The aim of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act
is to make sure everyone gets a fair shake when they apply for credit.
Under the law, creditors may not discriminate against you because
of your sex, age, marital status, race, color, national origin,
receipt of public assistance or because you may have exercised your
rights under consumer protection laws.
Lenders cannot, by law, say or write anything, in advertising or
other documents, that would discourage a responsible person from
applying for credit.
Creditors may not:
- ask for the sex, race, color, religion or national
origin of an applicant.
- ask about your plans for raising or having children.
- ask about your marital status when you apply for
a separate, unsecured account, unless you live in a community
property state such as Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana,
Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington.
- ask whether you receive alimony, child support
or separate maintenance payments UNLESS you will rely on that
income to pay back credit. A lender must explain that the income
from these sources need not be revealed unless the applicant wishes
to rely on it to establish credit-worthiness.
- discount or refuse to consider income because
it comes from part-time work, pension, annuity or retirement benefits.
- discount income because of your sex or marital
status. For example, a creditor cannot count a man's salary at
100 percent and a woman's at 75 percent.
- assume that a woman will stop working to
Creditors may ask:
- about your permanent residency or immigration
- about the number of dependents and dependent-related
- about your marital status if you are applying
for a joint account or one secured by property, or if you live
in a community property state.
- for information about a spouse if any of the following
apply: You live in a community property state; the spouse is a
co-applicant; the spouse will share use of the account; you rely
on your spouse's income; you rely on child support or alimony
from a former spouse.
- whether you pay alimony, child support or separate
- the names under which you have previously received
- you to voluntarily disclose your sex, race and
national origin if you're applying for a real estate loan.