by Jeff Sovern
One of my students, Andre Pascariu pointed me to this story about an actor who appeared in a Honda commercial and then decided to take advantage of the leasing offer he had pitched. The first dealership said his 709 credit score qualified him for the offer, but they didn't have the car he wanted. The second dealership had the car, but told him his credit score--which they said was 663--was too low for the special offer; they said he could lease the car only at a higher rate. Because each credit bureau uses a different algorithm for calculating FICO scores, and might also have different information in its files, it's possible that both dealers were telling the truth. Still, suppose the second dealer was attempting to inflate its charges by choosing to use the lowest credit score it knew of for the borrower. Would that violate any laws? Because the actor was African-American, it's natural to wonder if the dealer regularly played such games with people of color; if so, it would probably have violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, but if it treated everybody that way, would there be a violation of any law? I'm not aware of any laws that require lenders to use the lowest credit score they know of, so my answer would be no.