The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Bank of America $12 million for submitting false mortgage lending information to the federal government.
According to the agency, hundreds of BoA loan officers violated the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act from 2016-20 by falsely reporting that mortgage applicants were declining to answer questions about their race, ethnicity or sex when in fact they had never been asked.
“Bank of America did not ensure that its mortgage loan officers accurately collected and reported the demographic data required under HMDA,” according to the CFPB. “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 second-largest bank in the country, Bank of America had $2.4 trillion in assets as of June. The order requires the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank to record and audit phone applications to ensure data under the 1975 law is accurately collected and recorded.
“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.”
According to CNBC, Bank of America representative Bill Halldin disputed the CFPB’s four-year timeframe but did admit the violations took place over several months. The bank properly collected the data in the vast majority of applications reviewed by the CFPB, Halldin added, but he acknowledged that some officers reported that a lower rate of applicants declined to disclose their race than the annual industry averages.
“As the CFPB notes, we took additional steps in 2020 and 2021 to enhance our monitoring and training to ensure employees ask applicants for required racial, ethnic and gender information,” Halldin added. “This data collection issue had no impact on applications.”
The CFPB has fined Bank of America several times over the past decade. In July, the agency fined the bank more than $200 million for illegally double-charging fees, opening fake accounts and withholding credit card rewards.
In 2022, the CFPB and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fined the bank $225 million and ordered it to refund hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers for erroneous disbursement of state unemployment benefits. In 2014, Bank of America was ordered to pay $727 million for illegal credit card marketing practices.