WASHINGTON - Ford Motor Credit Co. last week agreed to pay the federal government $650,000 to settle fair-lending charges, but the company called the case a technical matter and said a broader probe turned up no other violation.

The Federal Trade Commission alleged that the Dearborn, Mich., finance company discriminated against unmarried co-applicants seeking auto loans. Ford Credit allegedly gave these borrowers less favorable terms than married couples by failing to count their combined incomes. The company admitted no wrongdoing in connection with the practice, which the FTC found took place from May 1994 to August 1995.

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