The Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today announced a settlement to resolve allegations that GE Capital Retail Bank, known as of this month as Synchrony Bank, engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of discrimination by excluding Hispanic borrowers from two of its credit card debt-repayment programs. The settlement resolves claims by the department and the CFPB that GE Capital violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) by excluding borrowers who indicated that they preferred communications to be in Spanish or had a mailing address in Puerto Rico from two credit card debt-repayment programs. The agreement is a joint fair lending enforcement action by the department and the CFPB and is the federal government’s largest credit card discrimination settlement in history.

The settlement provides $169 million in relief to approximately 108,000 borrowers in the form of monetary payments and the reduction, or complete waiver, of borrowers’ credit card balances. GE Capital itself identified and reported the discrimination to the CFPB, was proactive in taking steps toward providing relief to affected borrowers, and has worked closely with the department and the CFPB to further identify and compensate victims of the discrimination. Specifically, GE Capital has already provided the benefits of the offers or their equivalent value to approximately 84,000 borrowers, totaling $131.8 million in relief. Following the settlement, the bank will provide the remaining $37 million in payments, reductions and waivers to affected borrowers.

“The blatant discrimination that occurred here is unlawful and will not be tolerated,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “Borrowers have the right to credit card terms that do not differ based on their national origin, and the settlement today sends the message that the Justice Department can and will vigorously enforce the law against lenders who violate that right.”