“Adverse action is defined in the ECOA as ‘a refusal to grant credit in substantially the amount or on substantially the terms requested,’ and the FCRA incorporates that same definition when applied to a credit transaction. The difference with the application of the FCRA’s requirements is that the denial of credit is based upon information in a report from a credit reporting agency (CRA) or information obtained from a third party other than a CRA. … It’s also important to remember that adverse action includes more than just a simple denial of credit. If the creditor makes a counteroffer to extend credit under different terms or in a different amount than what was requested … that is also adverse action.” 
If adverse action is taken, notices (including the action taken, an ECOA notice, and statement of specific reasons as to why adverse action was taken) in writing must be sent within 30 days in most cases. 
Penalties for non-compliance: “Liability for punitive damages … is limited to $10,000 in individual actions and the lesser of $500,000 or 1 percent of the creditor's net worth in class actions. … Civil action … may be brought in the appropriate United States district court without regard to the amount in controversy or in any other court of competent jurisdiction within two years after the date of the occurrence of the violation, or within one year after the commencement of an administrative enforcement proceeding or of a civil action brought by the Attorney General of the United States within two years after the alleged violation.” 
Please note: This is not legal advice and dealers should always seek the assistance of qualified legal counsel.
From "19 Laws, Rules and Regulations That Can Cost You More Than Money" in the September 2010 issue of Auto Dealer Monthly.