The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), Regulation B:

Among its many provisions, Regulation B of the ECOA states the following in regards to types of credit references: A creditor may restrict the types of credit history and credit references that it will consider, provided that the restrictions are applied to all credit applicants without regard to sex, marital status, or any other prohibited basis. On the applicant's request, however, a creditor must consider credit information not reported through a credit bureau when the information relates to the same types of credit references and history that the creditor would consider if reported through a credit bureau.

ECOA § 702. Definitions

(a) The definitions and rules of construction set forth in this section are applicable for the purposes of this title.
(b) The term "applicant" means any person who applies to a creditor directly for an extension, renewal, or continuation of credit, or applies to a creditor indirectly by use of an existing credit plan for an amount exceeding a previously established credit limit.
(c) The term "Board" refers to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
(d) The term "credit" means the right granted by a creditor to a debtor to defer payment of debt or to incur debts and defer its payment or to purchase property or services and defer payment therefore.
(e) The term "creditor" means any person who regularly extends, renews, or continues credit; any person who regularly arranges for the extension, renewal, or continuation of credit; or any assignee of an original creditor who participates in the decision to extend, renew, or continue credit.
(f) The term "person" means a natural person, a corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, trust, estate, partnership, cooperative, or association.
(g) Any reference to any requirement imposed under this title or any provision thereof includes reference to the regulations of the Board under this title or the provision thereof in question.

Read Regulation B of the ECOA at: http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/6500-2900.html

Read the Official Staff Interpretations; Supplement I to Part 202:

Following is an official staff interpretation of Regulation B (12 CFR part 202) issued under authority delegated by the Federal Reserve Board to officials in the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs. References are to sections of Regulation B of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.). http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/6500-2900.html#fdic65002026

The FTC enforces the Equal Credit Opportunity Act:

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. 

The FTC’s primary focus in the financial services area is in bringing law enforcement actions against those who violate statutes and regulations.   In addition to its law enforcement activities, the FTC engages in research and policy development related to the types of financial services these statutes and regulations cover, including, among other, Regulation B.  Finally, the Commission provides numerous business and consumer education materials about these types of financial services to the public, to promote business compliance with the law and to help consumers protect themselves from those who do not.

Read the Federal Trade Commission’s “Facts for Consumers; Equal Credit Opportunity: Understanding Your Rights Under the Law” at:  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre15.shtm

ECOA § 706. Civil Liability:

(a) Any creditor who fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this title shall be liable to the aggrieved applicant for any actual damages sustained by such applicant acting either in an individual capacity or as a member of a class.

(b) Any creditor, other than a government or governmental subdivision or agency, who fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this title shall be liable to the aggrieved applicant for punitive damages in an amount not greater than $10,000, in addition to any actual damages provided in subsection (a), except that in the case of a class action the total recovery under this subsection shall not exceed the lesser of $500,000 or 1 per centum of the net worth of the creditor. In determining the amount of such damages in any action, the court shall consider, among other relevant factors, the amount of any actual damages awarded, the frequency and persistence of failures of compliance by the creditor, the resources of the creditor, the number of persons adversely affected, and the extent to which the creditor's failure of compliance was intentional.

(c) Upon application by an aggrieved applicant, the appropriate United States district court or any other court of competent jurisdiction may grant such equitable and declaratory relief as is necessary to enforce the requirements imposed under this title.

(d) In the case of any successful action under subsection (a), (b), or (c), the costs of the action, together with a reasonable attorney's fee as determined by the court, shall be added to any damages awarded by the court under such subsections.

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