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Bank of America Settling Probe over Disabled Borrowers
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Bank of America Corp has agreed to settle DOJ accusations that it violated the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act by discriminating against mortgage applicants on the basis of disabilities. The settlement would bring to an end the allegations against Bank of America for imposing extra burdens on borrowers who relied on Social Security disability insurance income to qualify for home loans. Such extra conditions imposed by Bank of America upon borrowers with disabilities included providing letters from doctors to document their disability insurance income.

Though details are yet to be made public, according to industry sources eligible mortgage loan applicants would receive between $100 and $5000 individually. The bank has also agreed to hire an external expert to review 25,000 loan applications for identifying other possible victims and for adequate training of underwriters and loan officers.

Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general in the civil rights unit of the DOJ said, “Loan applicants with disabilities should not be subjected to invasive requests for medical information from a doctor when they are applying for credit.”

  
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In a statement, the Bank of America mentioned, “The government’s position has been inconsistent regarding whether a doctor’s note should be requested … HUD determined this policy is in compliance for its loans, yet suggests it somehow violates the Fair Housing Act for non-HUD loans. Same statute, same alleged conduct, different result. We’re being accused of wrongdoing by the government for following a policy that the government approved.”

The Justice Department said that the borrowers who filed the original three complaints with HUD will receive a total of $125,000 in compensation.

The case is U.S. v. Bank of America NA, U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina, No. 12-00605.

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