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Frequently Asked Questions about Discrimination in Credit

What is credit discrimination?

Under the Human Rights Act, it is an unfair discriminatory practice to refuse personal or commercial credit, or to subject the borrower to different requirements, because of race, color, creed, religion, disability, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or marital status, or receipt of public assistance, including medical assistance.

Can a person be refused a credit card or other forms of credit because he or she receives public assistance?

A lender may consider an individual's income in determining whether to extend credit, and under what terms or conditions. But income received from public assistance must be considered by the same standards as income received from employment or other sources.

Can an employer or landlord investigate my credit as part of a background check, and refuse to hire me or rent to me, as result of current or past credit problems?

An employer may conduct a background check on a job applicant, and may inquire about an applicant's credit worthiness. However, such background checks and any resulting information may not be used as a basis for illegal discrimination. For example, if an employer were to conduct background checks only on individuals of a certain race or national origin, or hold those applicants to a different standard, there could be a violation of the Human Rights Act.

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