The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibits credit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you get public assistance. Below, we detail the law and your equal credit opportunity rights when applying for credit during a divorce.
Who Does the Law Protect You Against
The law provides protections when you deal with any organizations or people who regularly extend credit, including banks, small loan, and finance companies, retail and department stores, credit card companies, and credit unions. Everyone who participates in the decision to grant credit or in setting the terms of that credit must comply with ECOA.
When You Apply for Credit, Creditors May Not...
- Discourage you from applying or reject your application because of your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you receive public assistance.
- Impose different terms or conditions, like a higher interest rate or higher fees, on a loan based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you receive public assistance.
- Ask if you’re widowed or divorced. A creditor may use only the terms: married, unmarried, or separated.
- Ask about your marital status if you’re applying for a separate, unsecured account. A creditor may ask you to provide this information if you live in “community property” states. A creditor in any state may ask for this information if you apply for a joint account or one secured by property.
- Ask for information about your spouse, except if your spouse is applying with you; if your spouse will be allowed to use this account; if you are relying on your spouse’s income or on alimony or child support income from a former spouse; if you live in a community property state.
- Ask if you get alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments unless they tell you first that you don’t have to provide this information if you aren’t relying on these payments to get credit. A creditor may ask if you have to pay alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments.
A Special Note to Women
A good credit history often is necessary to get credit. This can hurt many married, separated, divorced, and widowed women. Typically, there are two reasons women don’t have credit histories in their own names: either they lost their credit histories when they married and changed their names, or creditors reported accounts shared by married couples in the husband’s name only.
If you’re married, separated, divorced, or widowed, contact your local credit reporting companies to make sure all relevant bill payment information is in a file under your own name.
National credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that, in turn, use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.
Take Action if Your Equal Credit Opprtunity Rights Have Been Violated
If you suspect a creditor has discriminated against you:
- Complain to the creditor.
- Check with your state Attorney General’s Office to see if the creditor violated state equal credit opportunity laws.
- Report violations to the appropriate government agency. If you’ve been denied credit, the creditor must give you the name and address of the agency to contact.
Involving a Certified Divorce Lending Professional (CDLP® ) early in the divorce settlement agreement can help the divorcing homeowners set the stage for successful mortgage financing in the future.
Divorce Mortgage Planning is the process of evaluating your mortgage options in the context of your overall financial objectives as they pertain to your divorcing situation. Working directly with your divorce team, a CDLP® understands the intersection of divorce, tax, real estate, and mortgage financing. The role of the CDLP® is to help you integrate the mortgage you select into your overall long and short financial and investment goals, to help you minimize your taxes, and to minimize your interest expense and maximize your cash flow.
This is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. You should contact an attorney or tax professional to obtain legal and tax advice. Interest rates and fees are estimates provided for informational purposes only and are subject to market changes. This is not a commitment to lend. Rates change daily – call for current quotations. The information contained in this newsletter has been prepared by, or purchased from, an independent third party and is distributed for consumer education purposes.
Copyright 2021—All Rights Divorce Lending Association