Bankers are objecting to a Federal Reserve Board proposal that would force lenders to run several credit-scoring tests before rejecting a loan application from an older customer.
The changes would apply to banks that judge different age groups' creditworthiness by different criteria. Such treatment is common.
The Fed proposed that banks rejecting loan applicants 62 or older under guidelines for their age group would have to rescore them using criteria established to screen younger applicants. Banks would have to offer loans to those who passed the second test.
The proposal would modify the agency's commentary on Regulation B, which implements the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
The Fed received 20 comment letters by the Feb. 28 deadline. Though bankers agreed that their older customers should not be discriminated against, most said the proposed revisions provide too much protection for people over 62.
In a letter to the Fed, Robert P. Alphin, executive vice president of Wachovia Bank, Winston-Salem, N.C., wrote that the changes would be confusing and expensive for bankers. Banks might have to rework their credit scoring systems, he noted.
"It would turn the entire structure of age in credit-scoring systems upside down to require that the elderly receive such treatment in age-split scoring systems," Mr. Alphin wrote.
Tony Pallante, executive vice president of Avondale Federal Savings Bank, Chicago, wrote the proposal would tie the hands of smaller bankers. These often exercise more judgment than lenders at huge banks, who must adhere strictly to credit-scoring programs because of sheer volume.
Many credit-scoring models could be skewed by forcing banks to subject age groups to criteria not designed to fit their needs, Mr. Pallante said.
"The proposal is overbroad, restricts the ability of the creditor to make a credit decision, imposes cost burdens on creditors, and disproportionately has negative cost implications and other effects upon smaller and medium-sized institutions," Mr. Pallante wrote.
"These negative attributes are not offset by any perceived benefits."