How the Equal Credit Opportunity Act Helped Women Establish Their Credit

October 2019 marks the 45th anniversary of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibits credit discrimination by race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, age, being a recipient of public assistance, and sex.

To celebrate Internationals Women’s Day, Experian looked back at a time where women were plagued by discrimination before the enactment of the ECOA.

Before 1974:

  • Mortgage lenders often discounted the incomes of employed, married women within childbearing age under the assumption that they would take time off to raise children.
  • Banks often required single, divorced or widowed women to bring a man along with them to cosign for a credit card.
  • Proponents of the ECOA claimed that mortgage lenders were more likely to deny credit to single women relative to other applicants.

After the ECOA:

  • Decisions about lending cannot be influenced by personal speculation about a woman’s earning potential or childbearing schedule.
  • Women are considered by the same set of rules, using objective data such as income, credit scores, and existing debt load.

Having control of personal and family finances is essential for all women to help establish their own credit identities, Experian says. Whether single or married, women have shown lenders they can be financially responsible and are good credit risks.

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