WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today ordered Bank of America to pay a $12 million penalty for submitting false mortgage lending information to the federal government under a long-standing federal law. For at least four years, hundreds of Bank of America loan officers failed to ask mortgage applicants certain demographic questions as required under federal law, and then falsely reported that the applicants had chosen not to respond. Under the CFPB’s order, Bank of America must pay $12 million into the CFPB’s victims relief fund.
“Bank of America violated a federal law that thousands of mortgage lenders have routinely followed for decades,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “It is illegal to report false information to federal regulators, and we will be taking additional steps to ensure that Bank of America stops breaking the law.”
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is a global systemically important bank headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. As of June 2023, the bank had $2.4 trillion in assets, which makes it the second-largest bank in the United States.
Enacted in 1975, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) requires mortgage lenders to report information about loan applications and originations to the CFPB and other federal regulators. The data collected under HMDA are the most comprehensive source of publicly available information on the U.S. mortgage market. The public and regulators can use the information to monitor whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities, and to identify possible discriminatory lending patterns.
The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requires financial institutions to report demographic data about mortgage applicants. The CFPB’s review of Bank of America’s HMDA data collection practices found that the bank was submitting false data, including falsely reporting that mortgage applicants were declining to answer demographic questions. This conduct violated HMDA and its implementing regulation, Regulation C, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Act. Specifically, the CFPB found that Bank of America:
- Falsely reported that applicants declined to provide information: Hundreds of Bank of America loan officers reported that 100% of mortgage applicants chose not to provide their demographic data over at least a three month period. In fact, these loan officers were not asking applicants for demographic data, but instead were falsely recording that the applicants chose not to provide the information.
- Failed to adequately oversee accurate data collection: Bank of America did not ensure that its mortgage loan officers accurately collected and reported the demographic data required under HMDA. For example, the bank identified that many loan officers receiving applications by phone were failing to collect the required data as early as 2013, but the bank turned a blind eye for years despite knowledge of the problem.
The CFPB has taken numerous actions against Bank of America for violating federal law. In July 2023, the CFPB and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) ordered Bank of America to pay over $200 million for illegally charging junk fees, withholding credit card rewards, and opening fake accounts. In 2022, CFPB and OCC ordered Bank of America to pay $225 million in fines and refund hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers for botched disbursement of state unemployment benefits. That same year, Bank of America also paid a $10 million penalty for unlawful garnishments of customer accounts. And in 2014, the CFPB ordered Bank of America to pay $727 million to consumers for illegal and deceptive credit card marketing practices.
Under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), the CFPB has the authority to take action against financial institutions violating consumer financial laws, including HMDA and Regulation C.
Today’s order requires Bank of America to take steps to avoid its illegal mortgage data reporting practices and to pay a $12 million penalty to the CFPB’s victims relief fund.
Consumers can also submit complaints about financial products or services by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
Employees of companies who they believe their company has violated federal consumer financial laws are encouraged to send information about what they know to email@example.com.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that implements and enforces Federal consumer financial law and ensures that markets for consumer financial products are fair, transparent, and competitive. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.