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The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibits credit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, and age, does seek to protect women.   Every company that either extends credit or makes credit decisions must comply with the ECOA.

The ECOA does not allow potential creditors to consider gender in credit-making decisions.  In addition, under the ECOA, creditors cannot discount a woman’s income, or consider that a woman of child-bearing age may at some point leave her job.

Under the ECOA, reports to credit bureaus must be made in the names of both husband and wife if both use an account or are responsible for repaying the debt. Some women who are divorced or widowed may not have separate credit histories because their credit accounts were listed only in their husbands' names. But divorced and widowed women can still benefit from such a record. Under the ECOA, creditors must consider the credit history of accounts women have held jointly with their husbands. Creditors must also look at the record of any account held only in the husband's name if a woman can show that it also reflects her own creditworthiness. If the record is unfavorable—for example, if an ex-husband is a bad credit risk—she can try to show that the record does not reflect her own creditworthiness.