Photo: The FTC sends out $1.5 million in refund checks to Hispanic consumers who were discriminated against when trying to obtain mortgages
The Federal Trade Commission has mailed refund checks to Hispanic borrowers allegedly charged more on their mortgage than their white counterparts. The refunds total $1.5 million.
The 3,100 refund checks are a result of a lawsuit filed by the FTC against Golden Empire Mortgage, a California-based company, and its CEO Howard Kootsra. The lawsuit points out that while the Hispanic borrowers were charged more, no records could explain why, as neither the consumers’ credit or underwriting showed risk.
In September, Golden Empire struck a settlement, and a $5.5 million judgment was suspended when the lenders paid the $1.5 million for the refunds. The settlement expressly forbids Golden from discriminating on the basis of national origin in future loans and requires that they “establish a policy restricting the discretion of a loan originator’s pricing.” The defendants are also required to make sure the data and training programs for its employees are completed.
Those receiving the refund checks are urged to cash them before June 21.