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Credit discrimination: The obstacles women in Illinois may face

Historically, women have had a harder time than men obtaining credit. In fact, until the federal government passed laws in the 1960s, women in Illinois and across the country were largely denied the opportunity to obtain a loan or other line of credit. Even though times have changed, there are many ways in which women may still struggle with their financial wellbeing when it comes to this issue.

In order to obtain credit, someone must have a solid credit history. This is often where women run into issues. The Federal Trade Commission points out that there are two major obstacles for many women trying to obtain credit. The first is that when a woman changes her name when she gets married, she runs the risk of losing her credit history. The second is that even when a couple shares a credit account, some creditors may only report that account in the husband’s name. Women who do not work or have a steady source of income could also face challenges when trying to get credit in their own name.

Fortunately, there are ways for women to resolve the issue. The first step is to contact a credit reporting agency to determine which accounts are on file. It may be necessary to point out shared accounts or note a pre-existing credit history.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling also offers the following tips for women to establish and grow credit:

  •        Start with either a secured credit card or basic credit card.
  •        Obtain a credit report and score to check for any possible errors.
  •        Ask someone to co-sign if necessary.
  •        Avoid trying to obtain too much credit at once.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from discriminating against people based on factors that include sex. Someone who believes that discrimination has occurred should discuss the issue with the office of the Illinois Attorney General.

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