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New Credit Scoring Standards

FICO 08: How will the new industry standard affect credit scoring?

On January 29, 2009 TransUnion rolled out and made available the credit-scoring model called FICO 08. This is the newest version of the FICO® credit score, which is simply a redevelopment of their widely used industry standard classic score. The long awaited release of this model is good news for lenders, low risk borrowers, and those with low credit card balances. It is bad news for piggybackers, companies that sell piggybacking services, consumers with a lot of credit card debt, and the flop of the century, so far, in the credit scoring world known as VantageScore.

FICO 08 will eventually be the industry standard credit score despite not being available yet from Equifax or Experian. We should see FICO 08 at Equifax before the fall and at Experian as soon as they start losing customers to TransUnion or Equifax. Experian has alluded to the fact that their ongoing litigation with Fair Isaac over VantageScore is causing some stress in their relationship and delaying the roll out of FICO 08. The problem is eventually lenders are going to get sick and tired of getting caught in the middle of the Experian versus FICO arm wrestling match and move their business elsewhere when they find out that Experian is not offering the new gold standard credit scoring model. When that happens you will be able to time the FICO 08 implementation at Experian with the second hand on your favorite watch.

So what is so different about FICO 08 and the other versions of the FICO score? There are three primary differences of note.

They are:

1. Negligible Collection and Public Record Exclusion - The newest FICO score will ignore any collections or public records with an original amount less than $100. It is important to note that for a collection to be bypassed by the score, thanks to the new logic, it has to be reported as a 3rd party collection agency account and not the collection department of a credit card company. If the collection shows up as trade then it will still count against your score even if it is less than $100. And, if the original amount was over $100 but it has been paid down to a current balance of less than $100 it will still count in your score. This is exceptional news for consumers who are haunted by low dollar collections caused by misdirected final utility bills and some insurance snafus.

2. Credit Card Utilization - Credit card utilization, the ratio of your current balances to your current credit limits on revolving credit card accounts, remains a highly important factor in your FICO credit score. However, in FICO 08 it takes on a whole new level of importance. Consumers who have balances that approach the reported credit limit will find their scores lower with FICO 08 than with previous versions of the scoring software. FICO research has apparently discovered that consumers who are highly utilized with their credit cards are more risky than they were in the past, hence the more punitive treatment.

3. No Piggybacking Allowed - This new version of FICO apparently has the ability to determine if an authorized user credit card account is an attempt to game the credit scoring system through piggybacking, which is the process whereby a consumer with poor credit would pay to be added to the credit card of someone with good credit as an authorized user. Fair Isaac will not disclose how they are able to tell the difference between a legitimate authorized user account belonging to, say, a husband and wife versus one that has been made it to a credit report through other means, such as piggybacking. You will recall that FICO 08 was originally going to completely ignore all authorized user accounts. This new logic seems to split the difference between ignoring all authorized user relationships and doing nothing to discourage the use of piggybacking services.

So why does FICO 08 pose a problem for VantageScore? It is actually quite simple. As long as FICO keeps improving what they refer to as their classic risk scores the less compelling it is for a lender to test, let alone switch, to a new score brand. Implementing a new version of FICO is much easier than implementing a whole new scoring model, like Vantage. In fact, a company called SubscriberWise has already implemented FICO 08 not more than two weeks after it became available.

The best advice for consumers who will begin to be scored with this new FICO score is for them to continue to do what they?re doing now. Continue to make all of your payments on time. Continue to work down your credit card balances as much as possible. Continue to apply for credit only when needed. If you can do all of these things then your FICO 08 score will be solid as a rock and, who knows, maybe your VantageScore will be solid too, although nobody will care.

About CreditCRM and Attorney Edward Jamison

Edward Jamison is the founder of Jamison Law Group and the creator of CreditCRM. He is an attorney and nationally recognized as an expert in credit Restoration and identity theft. Edward sits on the board of advisors for the National Association of Credit Services Organizations and has been the outspoken advocate for ethical credit Restoration since getting into the business in the year 2000. Edward has been featured as a credit expert on NBC, CBS, Fox, the Wall Street Journal, the Mortgage Market Guide, Mortgage Planner Magazine, the Mortgage Press, the Scotsman Guide, Broker Banker magazine and more.


Posted: Friday, March 20, 2009 11:32 AM by Jon Becker


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