Bank of America's alleged discrimination against blacks and Hispanics in the area of home loans will lead its Countrywide unit to pay a fine of $335 million, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Countrywide settlement with the Department of Justice is the largest settlement in history over residential fair lending, reports the AJC.
The settlement covers conduct between 2004 and 2008 and involves allegations of charging blacks and Hispanics higher interest rates and directing them towards more expensive mortgages, reports MSNBC. The alleged discrimination extended to around 200,000 people.
Every potential mortgagee has a right to fair lending. Federal law protects every homebuyer looking for a mortgage loan against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, age, receipt of public assistance funds, familial status (having children under the age of 18), handicap, or exercising your rights under other consumer credit protection laws. Lenders may not take any of these factors into account in their dealings with you.
As the Countrywide settlement reveals, it is often extremely difficult to tell if a lender is being disingenuous. One thing you can do is to check with private fair housing groups and human rights agencies, as well as look out for notices from federal or state enforcement agencies.
In the event you find that your lender is engaging in discriminatory practices then you should also consider speaking to a qualified attorney. They would be able to tell you about monetary damages and other relief -- like going to the DOJ.