Over 65 million people, or about 21 percent of the U.S. population over the age of five, speak a language other than English at home and two-fifths of these have limited proficiency in English. Limited English Proficient (LEP) consumers often face numerous obstacles to accessing financial products and services, many stemming from language barriers. Financial disclosures and documents are often not available in LEP consumers’ preferred languages, and financial institutions may not have bilingual employees or access to interpretation services.
A critical part of the Bureau’s mission is to ensure the fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory access to credit and promote the availability of credit. As Director Kraninger has noted, we are taking action to build a more inclusive financial system. To implement this goal, we are focusing on ways financial institutions can better serve LEP consumers and we are working to develop guidance to industry on the provision of financial products and services to LEP consumers.
You can inform this guidance by responding to our Request for Information (RFI). One focus of the RFI relates to LEP issues, and the Bureau is seeking public comment and information that would enable us to better understand the challenges specific to serving LEP consumers and to find ways to encourage creditors to increase access for LEP consumers. Specifically, the RFI asks:
“Should the Bureau provide additional clarity under ECOA and/or Regulation B to further encourage creditors to provide assistance, products, and services in languages other than English to consumers with limited English proficiency? If so, in what way(s)?”
We encourage you to respond to this question by December 1, 2020. To provide feedback on this or any aspect of the RFI, follow the instructions located to submit a formal public comment. Your input can help us build a more inclusive financial system.