The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) recently issued a reminder that “having a policy or practice of requiring manual underwriting as an exception to automated underwriting systems based on a minimum or maximum age” violates the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and its implementing regulation, Regulation B.
NCUA issued a Letter to Credit Unions (22-CU-04) in February addressing ECOA Nondiscrimination Requirements, including the prohibited basis variable “age” in their automated underwriting systems.
An example of such prohibited age discrimination is having system parameters that require applicants or co-applicants to be at least 25 years of age and no older than 70 years of age at the time of application to receive an automatic approval.
Applications that meet the system criteria for automatic approval are offered credit pending verification of income and review of collateral, as applicable. Applications that do not meet the system criteria for automatic approval are referred to an underwriter for a manual review.
Also, creditors may not require manual underwriting as an exception to automated underwriting systems based on an applicant’s marital status. An example of such prohibited marital status discrimination is including system parameters that permit automatic approval of married joint applicants but require a manual review of applications submitted by unmarried joint applicants.
Credit unions using automated underwriting systems need to review their systems’ settings and related loan policies and practices to ensure they do not result in age, marital status, or other prohibited basis discrimination. ECOA violations can result in administrative enforcement and referral to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution.