Most financial transactions involving consumers are covered by consumer protection laws. These include transactions involving credit, charge, and debit cards issued by banks and credit cards issued by retail stores; ATM transactions and other electronic fund transfers; deposit account transactions; automobile leases; mortgages and home equity loans; and lines of credit and other unsecured credit.
The following is a short list of consumer laws that will empower you!
• Fair Housing Act (1968) Prohibits discrimination in the extension of housing credit on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, or family status.
• Truth in Lending Act (1968) Requires uniform methods for computing the cost of credit and for disclosing credit terms. Gives borrowers the right to cancel, within three days, certain loans secured by their residences. Prohibits the unsolicited issuance of credit cards and limits cardholder liability for unauthorized use. Also imposes limitations on home equity loans with rates or fees above a specified threshold.
• Fair Credit Reporting Act (1970) Protects consumers against inaccurate or misleading information in credit files maintained by credit-reporting agencies; requires credit reporting agencies to allow credit applicants to correct erroneous reports.
• Fair Credit Billing Act (1974) Specifies how creditors must respond to billing-error complaints from consumers; imposes requirements to ensure that creditors handle accounts fairly and promptly. Applies primarily to credit and charge card accounts (for example, store card and bank card accounts).
• Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974) Prohibits discrimination in credit transactions on several bases, including sex, marital status, age, race, religion, color, national origin, the receipt of public assistance funds, or the exercise of any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Requires creditors to grant credit to qualified individuals without requiring cosignature by spouses, to inform unsuccessful applicants in writing of the reasons credit was denied, and to allow married individuals to have credit histories on jointly held accounts maintained in the names of both spouses. Also entitles a borrower to a copy of a real estate appraisal report.
• Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of (1974) Requires that the nature and costs of real estate settlements be disclosed to borrowers. Also protects borrowers against abusive practices, such as kickbacks, and limits the use of escrow accounts.
• Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of (1975) Requires mortgage lenders to annually disclose to the public data about the geographic distribution of their applications, originations, and purchases of home-purchase and home-improvement loans and refinancings. Requires lenders to report data on the ethnicity, race, sex, income of applicants and borrowers, and other data. Also directs the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, of which the Federal Reserve is a member, to make summaries of the data available to the public.
• Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (1977) Prohibits abusive debt collection practices. Applies to banks that function as debt collectors for other entities.
• Home Equity Loan Consumer Protection Act of (1988) Requires creditors to provide consumers with detailed information about open-end credit plans secured by the consumer’s dwelling.
• Truth in Savings Act (1991) Requires that depository institutions disclose to depositors certain account information about their accounts—including the annual percentage yield, which must be calculated in a uniform manner—and prohibits certain methods of calculating interest.
• Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of (1994) Provides additional disclosure requirements and substantive limitations on home-equity loans with rates or fees above a certain percentage or amount.
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