Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 6.2. Financial Institutions and Services
Chapter 5. Equal Credit Opportunities
5/10/2021

Chapter 5. Equal Credit Opportunities.

§ 6.2-500. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Adverse action" means a denial or revocation of credit, a change in the terms of an existing credit arrangement, or a refusal to grant credit in substantially the amount or on substantially the terms requested. The term does not include a refusal to extend additional credit under an existing credit arrangement where the applicant is delinquent or otherwise in default, or where such additional credit would exceed a previously established credit limit.

"Applicant" means any person who applies to a creditor directly for an extension, renewal, or continuation of credit, or applies to a creditor indirectly by use of an existing credit plan for an amount exceeding the previously established credit limit.

"Credit" means the right granted by a creditor to a debtor to defer payment of debt or to incur debt and defer its payment or to purchase property or services and defer payment therefor.

"Creditor" means any person who regularly extends, renews, or continues credit; any person who regularly arranges for the extension, renewal, or continuation of credit; or any assignee of an original creditor who participates in the decision to extend, renew, or continue credit.

1975, c. 627, § 59.1-21.20; 1977, c. 589; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-501. Prohibited discrimination.

A. As used in this section, "age" means being an individual who is at least 18 years of age.

B. It shall be unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction:

1. On the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, disability, or status as a veteran provided that the applicant has the capacity to contract; or

2. Because all or part of the applicant's income derives from any public assistance or social services program.

C. It shall not constitute discrimination for purposes of this chapter for a creditor:

1. To make an inquiry of marital status if such inquiry is for the purpose of ascertaining the creditor's rights and remedies applicable to the particular extension of credit and not to discriminate in a determination of creditworthiness;

2. To make an inquiry of the applicant's age or of whether the applicant's income derives from any public assistance or social services program if such inquiry is for the purpose of determining the amount and probable continuance of income levels, credit history, or other pertinent element of creditworthiness as provided in regulations of the Commission;

3. To use any empirically derived credit system which considers age if such system is demonstrably and statistically sound in accordance with regulations of the Commission, except that in the operation of such system the age of an elderly applicant may not be assigned a negative factor or value; or

4. To make an inquiry or to consider the age of an elderly applicant when the age of such applicant is to be used by the creditor in the extension of credit in favor of such applicant.

D. It is not a violation of this section for a creditor to refuse to extend credit offered pursuant to:

1. Any credit assistance program expressly authorized by law for an economically disadvantaged class of persons;

2. Any credit assistance program administered by a nonprofit organization for its members or an economically disadvantaged class of persons; or

3. Any special purpose credit program offered by a profit-making organization to meet special social needs which meets standards prescribed in regulations by the Commission, if such refusal is required by or made pursuant to such program.

1977, c. 589, § 59.1-21.21:1; 2002, c. 747; 2010, c. 794; 2020, cc. 1137, 1140.

§ 6.2-502. Notification of action on credit application.

Within 30 days, or such longer reasonable time as specified in regulations of the Commission for any class of credit transaction, after receipt of a completed application for credit, a creditor shall notify the applicant of its action on the application.

1977, c. 589, § 59.1-21.21:1; 2002, c. 747; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-503. Statement of reasons for adverse action.

A. Each applicant against whom adverse action is taken shall be entitled to a statement of reasons for the action on the application from the creditor. A creditor shall satisfy this obligation by:

1. Providing statement of reasons in writing as a matter of course to applicants against whom adverse action is taken; or

2. Giving written notification of adverse action that discloses (i) the applicant's right to a statement of reasons within 30 days after receipt by the creditor of a request made within 60 days after such notification and (ii) the identity of the person or office from which such statement may be obtained. The statement may be given orally if the written notification advises the applicant of his right to have the statement of reasons confirmed in writing on written request.

B. A statement of reasons meets the requirements of this section only if it contains the specific reasons for the adverse action taken.

C. Where a creditor has been requested by a third party to make a specific extension of credit directly or indirectly to an applicant, the notification and statement of reasons required by this section may be made directly by such creditor, or indirectly through the third party, provided in either case that the identity of the creditor is disclosed.

D. The requirements of subsections A, B, and C may be satisfied by oral statements or notifications in the case of any creditor who did not act on more than 150 applications during the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the adverse action is taken, as determined under regulations of the Commission.

1977, c. 589, § 59.1-21.21:1; 2002, c. 747; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-504. Requirement of signatures of both parties to a marriage not discriminatory in a secured transaction.

For the purposes of a secured transaction, a request for the signature of both parties to a marriage for the purpose of creating a valid lien, passing clear title, waiving inchoate rights to property, or assigning earnings, shall not constitute discrimination under this chapter. This provision shall not be construed to permit a creditor to take sex or marital status into account in connection with the evaluation of creditworthiness of any applicant.

1975, c. 627, § 59.1-21.22; 1977, c. 589; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-505. Remedies for violation.

A. Any creditor who fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this chapter shall be liable to the aggrieved applicant in an amount equal to the sum of any actual damages sustained by such applicant.

B. Any creditor, other than the federal or state government or any political subdivision or agency of such government, who fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this chapter shall be liable to the aggrieved applicant for punitive damages in an amount not greater than $10,000, as determined by the court, in addition to any actual damages provided in subsection A.

C. Upon application by an aggrieved applicant, an appropriate court may grant such equitable and declaratory relief as is necessary to enforce the requirements imposed under this chapter.

D. In the case of any successful action to enforce the foregoing liability, the costs of the action, together with the reasonable attorney fee as determined by the court, shall be added to any damages awarded by the court under the provisions of subsections A, B, and C.

E. Any action under this chapter may be brought in an appropriate court within two years from the date of the occurrence of the violation.

1975, c. 627, § 59.1-21.23; 1977, c. 589; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-506. Commission regulations.

The Commission shall adopt regulations to effectuate the purposes of this chapter provided that such regulations conform to and are no broader in scope than regulations, and amendments thereto, adopted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.). Such conforming regulations shall exempt from the coverage of this chapter any class of transactions which may be exempted from time to time from the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), by regulations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

1975, c. 627, § 59.1-21.24; 1977, c. 589; 2010, c. 794; 2016, c. 501.

§ 6.2-507. Limitation on liability.

No provision of this chapter imposing any liability shall apply to any act done or omitted in good faith in conformity with any rule, regulation, or interpretation thereof by the Commission or by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or officer or employee duly authorized by the Bureau to issue such interpretation or approvals under the comparable provisions of the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act, (15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), and regulations thereunder, notwithstanding that after such act or omission has occurred, such rule, regulation, or interpretation is amended, rescinded, or determined by judicial or other authority to be invalid for any reason.

1975, c. 627, § 59.1-21.24; 1977, c. 589; 2010, c. 794; 2016, c. 501.

§ 6.2-508. Compliance with Equal Credit Opportunity Act constitutes compliance with chapter.

Compliance with the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act, (15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), as amended, and regulations issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau thereunder, constitutes compliance with this chapter.

1975, c. 627, § 59.1-21.24; 1977, c. 589; 2010, c. 794; 2016, c. 501.

§ 6.2-509. Public to be informed of rights under chapter.

The Commission shall use any methods available to it to inform the public of the rights created by this chapter. Notice given pursuant to the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act, (15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), and regulations promulgated thereto, shall satisfy the requirements of this section.

1977, c. 589, § 59.1-21.25; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-510. Commission to investigate complaints; records to be open to public.

The Commission shall receive, investigate, and mediate complaints of violations of this chapter and shall keep all records pertaining to such complaints, investigations, and mediations open to the public. Nothing in this section shall toll the operation of subsection E of § 6.2-505.

1977, c. 589, § 59.1-21.26; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-511. Credit standards discoverable.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the discovery of a creditor's standards for granting credit, which discovery shall be under appropriate discovery procedures in the court in which an action is brought.

1977, c. 589, § 59.1-21.27; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-512. Election of remedies.

Where the same act or omission constitutes a violation of this chapter and of applicable federal law, a person aggrieved by such conduct may bring a legal action to recover monetary damages either under this chapter or under federal law, but not both. This election of remedies shall not apply to court actions in which the relief sought does not include monetary damages or to administrative actions.

1977, c. 589, § 59.1-21.28; 2010, c. 794.

§ 6.2-513. Authority of Attorney General.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of the law to the contrary, the Attorney General may investigate and bring an action in the name of the Commonwealth to enjoin any violation of this chapter.

1970, c. 780, § 59.1-68.2; 1973, c. 537; 1975, c. 43; 1984, c. 582; 2010, c. 794.