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In an extraordinary announcement yesterday, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) unveiled a broad expansion of its supervisory procedures to include examining supervised entities for discriminatory conduct that the agency alleges could constitute unfair practices in violation of the Dodd-Frank Act. Going forward, it appears that every exam for unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices (UDAAP) is likely to include an assessment of a company’s antidiscrimination programs as applied to all aspects of all consumer financial products or services, regardless of whether that company extends any credit or would otherwise be subject to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). In recent months, the Bureau has been laser focused on issues of fair lending and racial equity in the consumer credit market, including redlining, pricing and algorithmic bias, among others. With this change, the CFPB will be broadening its racial equity focus to cover every aspect of the consumer financial services sector.
The federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits discrimination by lenders. Under ECOA, it is unlawful for a creditor to treat an applicant less favorably than other applicants because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), marital status, age (as long as the applicant is old enough to enter into a contract), or the fact that they receive money from any public assistance program or are exercising their rights under certain consumer protectio
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