12 CFR § 202.5 - Rules concerning requests for information.
(a) General rules -
(1) Requests for information. Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section, a creditor may request any information in connection with a credit transaction. 1
1 This paragraph does not limit or abrogate any Federal or State law regarding privacy, privileged information, credit reporting limitations, or similar restrictions on obtainable information.
(2) Required collection of information. Notwithstanding paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section, a creditor shall request information for monitoring purposes as required by § 202.13 for credit secured by the applicant's dwelling. In addition, a creditor may obtain information required by a regulation, order, or agreement issued by, or entered into with, a court or an enforcement agency (including the Attorney General of the United States or a similar state official) to monitor or enforce compliance with the Act, this regulation, or other federal or state statutes or regulations.
(3) Special-purpose credit. A creditor may obtain information that is otherwise restricted to determine eligibility for a special purpose credit program, as provided in § 202.8(b), (c), and (d).
(b) Limitation on information about race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. A creditor shall not inquire about the race, color, religion, national origin, or sex of an applicant or any other person in connection with a credit transaction, except as provided in paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this section.
(1) Self-test. A creditor may inquire about the race, color, religion, national origin, or sex of an applicant or any other person in connection with a credit transaction for the purpose of conducting a self-test that meets the requirements of § 202.15. A creditor that makes such an inquiry shall disclose orally or in writing, at the time the information is requested, that:
(i) The applicant will not be required to provide the information;
(ii) The creditor is requesting the information to monitor its compliance with the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act;
(iii) Federal law prohibits the creditor from discriminating on the basis of this information, or on the basis of an applicant's decision not to furnish the information; and
(iv) If applicable, certain information will be collected based on visual observation or surname if not provided by the applicant or other person.
(2) Sex. An applicant may be requested to designate a title on an application form (such as Ms., Miss, Mr., or Mrs.) if the form discloses that the designation of a title is optional. An application form shall otherwise use only terms that are neutral as to sex.
(c) Information about a spouse or former spouse -
(1) General rule. Except as permitted in this paragraph, a creditor may not request any information concerning the spouse or former spouse of an applicant.
(2) Permissible inquiries. A creditor may request any information concerning an applicant's spouse (or former spouse under paragraph (c)(2)(v) of this section) that may be requested about the applicant if:
(i) The spouse will be permitted to use the account;
(ii) The spouse will be contractually liable on the account;
(iii) The applicant is relying on the spouse's income as a basis for repayment of the credit requested;
(iv) The applicant resides in a community property state or is relying on property located in such a state as a basis for repayment of the credit requested; or
(v) The applicant is relying on alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments from a spouse or former spouse as a basis for repayment of the credit requested.
(3) Other accounts of the applicant. A creditor may request that an applicant list any account on which the applicant is contractually liable and to provide the name and address of the person in whose name the account is held. A creditor may also ask an applicant to list the names in which the applicant has previously received credit.
(d) Other limitations on information requests -
(1) Marital status. If an applicant applies for individual unsecured credit, a creditor shall not inquire about the applicant's marital status unless the applicant resides in a community property state or is relying on property located in such a state as a basis for repayment of the credit requested. If an application is for other than individual unsecured credit, a creditor may inquire about the applicant's marital status, but shall use only the terms married, unmarried, and separated. A creditor may explain that the category unmarried includes single, divorced, and widowed persons.
(2) Disclosure about income from alimony, child support, or separate maintenance. A creditor shall not inquire whether income stated in an application is derived from alimony, child support, or separate maintenance payments unless the creditor discloses to the applicant that such income need not be revealed if the applicant does not want the creditor to consider it in determining the applicant's creditworthiness.
(3) Childbearing, childrearing. A creditor shall not inquire about birth control practices, intentions concerning the bearing or rearing of children, or capability to bear children. A creditor may inquire about the number and ages of an applicant's dependents or about dependent-related financial obligations or expenditures, provided such information is requested without regard to sex, marital status, or any other prohibited basis.
(e) Permanent residency and immigration status. A creditor may inquire about the permanent residency and immigration status of an applicant or any other person in connection with a credit transaction.