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The Federal Trade Commission joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Board of the Federal Reserve in an amicus brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in the case John Fralish v. Bank of America. The brief urges the court to adopt a reading of the Equal Credit Reporting Act, which the Commission enforces through Section 5 of the FTC Act, that reflects statutory text, history, and purpose.

The joint brief argues that the term “applicant” as used in the Equal Credit Opportunity Act is best read to protect existing holders of credit as well as persons who have sought but not yet been granted credit from unlawful discrimination. Bank of America, by contrast, would limit such protections just to persons not yet granted credit. The Commission joined the CFPB in addressing the definition of “applicant” in an amicus brief filed jointly with the CFPB a year ago, but the earlier case settled. In this new brief, the agencies have another opportunity to for a federal appellate court to adopt the correct interpretation of “applicant.”

The Commission voted 4-0 to file the amicus brief.

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