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Ford Credit Agrees to Settlement

December 9, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ford Motor Credit Co. has agreed to pay $650,000 to consumers to settle charges that it discriminated against applicants who were unmarried but buying a car together, federal regulators said Thursday.

The Federal Trade Commission had alleged that Ford Credit failed to combine the income of unmarried joint applicants, while doing so for married co-buyers. Because of that, the commission said, many unmarried co-buyers were offered less favorable terms during the period between May 1994 and August 1995.

The FTC accused the company of violating the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

``While lenders can use a variety of factors to compute a consumers’ creditworthiness, marital status isn’t one of them,″ said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

A spokesman for the company said the settlement affects about 1,000 credit customers, but he contended the period in question covered January through August of 1995. Prior to June of 1995, it was unclear under the law how and whether to combine the income of unmarried co-buyers, said Walter Jennings.

The company ``regrets any inconvenience any customers have experienced,″ Jennings said. Ford Credit is based in Dearborn, Mich.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ford Credit will pay $650,000 to compensate those credit applicants who were adversely affected during the time in question and who return an eligibility claim form, the FTC said.

The settlement also prohibits the company from future discrimination on the basis of marital status with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction, the commission said.

The complaint and consent agreement were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

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