Many rules and regulations are in place to protect consumers. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act states that lenders and entities that allow people to obtain credit cannot make credit decisions based on characteristics such as:
- Sex or gender
- Marital status
In general, creditors can ask for the majority of this information, but they cannot use it when deciding whether to grant credit to an individual or during the process of setting the terms of the agreement. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act protects applicants from corporations who try to discriminate based on any of these factors.
Purpose of The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)
The role of the ECOA is to give protection to consumers when they interact or conduct business with individuals or companies that are known to regularly extend credit. These entities include:
- Credit unions
- Retail and department stores
- Credit card companies
- Finance companies
- Real estate brokers
Any entity or individual who plays any part in granting people credit or establishing terms of credit agreements to consumers must comply with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Those who do not face possible legal repercussions for their lack of compliance.
Compensation for ECOA Violations
Should a consumer have their rights violated in some way by a creditor, such as by being discriminated against or receiving a notice violation, they have the right to sue the creditor. If the person decides to take legal action and is successful in their lawsuit, the court can also award punitive damages.
According to ECOA regulations, the plaintiff can receive up to $10,000 in damages. The court can also decide to award funds for attorney fees, and if the credit discrimination has anything to do with housing, the individual can bring about a lawsuit based on violations of the Fair Housing Act. If the individual wins his or her suit, he or she may be able to collect separate damages. Such compensation is also available in lawsuits where the defendant is accused of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Any person who believes that they have a legitimate claim against a creditor due to a violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Protection Act should get in touch with an experienced attorney. A qualified lawyer can help to prepare the case and fight to get you the compensation you’re entitled to by law. Heather Benveniste is that attorney. She has extensive experience representing that afflicted consumers of Illinois and can use her in-depth knowledge to your benefit. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.