Advocates Concerned New FICO Scores May Harm Consumers Rather than Help

Advocates Concerned New FICO Scores May Harm Consumers Rather than Help
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April 3, 2015

A change in how FICO scores are calculated could provide credit scores to millions of people that don't currently have one. Some, however, believe that it may actually harm consumers instead.

The Fair Isaac Corporation, known for the FICO scores used to determine creditworthiness, will be rolling out a new calculation that includes additional information, like utility payments.

Other data include payment history for cable and cell phone bills.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 15 million people can already be scored using this method and about one-third now have a score that is more than 620.

A FICO score of 620 is the threshold for getting approved by lenders for credit cards, mortgages and car loans.

The new score would also range from 300 to 850 and like traditional FICO scores the new score would take into account payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used. It also takes into account both negative and positive information on a consumer's credit report.

This, reports the Consumerist, is what's making consumer advocates uneasy.

In a 2012 testimony in front of a House subcommittee, the National Consumer Law Center said that adding things like utility payments could knock down a consumer's credit or give them a subprime score.

Those that live paycheck-to-paycheck may, for example, fall behind on utility bills during weather spikes. While the consumer may eventually make up the balance during the year, they may now end up with a black mark on their credit.

There are about 53 million Americans that don't have traditional FICO scores.