The US Department of Justice has issued a new guidance to lenders that encourages them to review their online lending policies to ensure they don’t discriminate against people with disabilities.
Key points:The DOJ wants lenders to review policies for individuals with disabilities to make sure they aren’t discriminating against themThe policy will help ensure consumers with disabilities can get online loans at the lowest possible costThe DOJ says lenders will be able to make payments for people with disability on a fixed rate basisThe new guidance is part of a sweeping overhaul of the financial industry that includes the launch of online lending services, as well as new rules that will help make sure people with physical disabilities can use the internet safely and affordably.
The US Justice Department said on Wednesday that it has updated its guidelines for lenders to ensure consumers of all ages have access to affordable loans.
The department said lenders will now be able make payments on a monthly basis, so people with all types of disabilities can make payments online and at the same time.
The guidance states that people with any type of disability should be able use online lenders to make monthly payments.
This is the second time in a month that the US government has issued guidance for lenders about how to accommodate individuals with physical impairments.
In March, the Justice Department released guidelines on how to treat people with Down syndrome.
The department’s guidance comes after months of criticism by consumer advocates and a series of court cases that have held that many of the online lending companies that operate under the Affordable Care Act don’t treat people who have disabilities fairly.
A review of thousands of loans made by more than 1,300 lenders found that some of the companies had policies that were “clearly designed to discriminate against individuals with disability”.
Loan companies including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ally Financial had to change their policies and practices in response to complaints from the government.
The changes have been widely welcomed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which said the new guidelines would be an “important first step in ensuring that individuals with significant disabilities have access, at all times, to safe and affordable loans”.
“These new guidelines provide a framework for lenders that will ensure they can continue to provide consumers with diverse loan options without discrimination, and without violating people with special needs,” said Jennifer Lynch, the policy director at the ACLU of Northern California.
“Lenders will now have a clear path to comply with the court orders that they’ve been obligated to comply to, and the government will have the resources it needs to hold companies accountable.”
Fannie Mae spokeswoman Stephanie Dauber said that while the guidelines will provide a path to compliance, the company is not changing its policies or practices.
“We have always offered the widest range of options for our borrowers, including those who have significant disabilities, and we will continue to do so,” Daubersaid.
“We remain committed to our mission to provide a safe and accessible loan product to all our borrowers.”
“The department has issued this guidance to make it clear that we will make loans to people with certain disabilities accessible, while at the very same time ensuring that we do not discriminate against those who are not,” she added.
In April, a federal appeals court ruled that the American Mortgage Association’s (AMP) lending practices discriminate against some borrowers with Down Syndrome.
The appeals court also ruled that a US-based lender that offers loans to individuals with Down s Syndrome had to make up the difference for people who are disabled.
At the time, the American Psychological Association said it was concerned that a federal judge was ruling against the AMA.
“This new guidance will give consumers more confidence in the safety of their online financial decisions, especially when it comes to lending to people who use assistive technologies,” the APA said in a statement.
“As a result, the AMA’s lending practices will continue their evolution, making it clear the AMA will no longer discriminate against its customers who are unable to use their own devices.”