Citibank – one of the nation’s largest banks – has recently agreed to pay nearly $26 million in fines to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to settle claims that it discriminated against persons with Armenian last names.
The government agency cited evidence that Citibank engaged in a “pattern or practice” of applying extra scrutiny to and often denying credit card applications based on Armenian national origin. Citibank employees used the applicant’s last name ending in -ian or -yan, especially if the applicant’s address was in or around Glendale, California, to discriminate against applicants of Armenian national origin.
The discrimination affected applicants of so-called “private-label or “co-branded” credit cards at retailers like Costco, Macy’s, Home Depot, Sears, American Airlines, Wayfair Best Buy, Shell, AT&T, Shop Your Way, and others.
Persons Potentially Affected by Citibank’s Discrimination
Citibank stereotyped such applicants as criminal prone to commit fraud and even referred to Armenian applicants as “Armenian bad guys” or “bust outs,” implying they would leave the country without paying off the charges.
“The CFPB found that Citi purposefully discriminated against applicants of Armenian descent, primarily based on the spelling of their last name,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Citi stereotyped Armenians as prone to crime and fraud. In reality, Citi illegally fabricated documents to cover up its discrimination.”
When Citi identified credit card applicants as potentially being of Armenian national origin, the bank applied more stringent criteria to their applications, including denying them outright and requiring additional information or placing a block on the account.
Citibank tried to cover up its discrimination and lied to customers about the reasons for denial.
California law prohibits this form of blatant discrimination. Citibank’s refusal to extend credit to Armenian Americans has real consequences on one’s ability to function in society and puts Armenian Americans at a competitive disadvantage with those who don’t face such discrimination, and degrades Armenian Americans sense of self-worth by treating them as second-class citizens.
If you believe you were the victim of discrimination by Citibank, contact the attorneys at CounselOne today. We are investigating class action claims aimed at redressing Citibank’s discrimination and vindicating the rights of Armenian Americans.
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