Consumers to Lose Access to One Credit Score

February 8, 2009, Written By Sarah Hefner

Credit scores are the only windows that consumers have on how they look to lenders when they apply for a loan and the rates they can reasonably expect to receive. Unfortunately, one window is about to be closed by Experian on February 13, when it discontinues the distribution of Experian based FICO scores and reports from MyFICO.com.

FICO is the credit score created by Fair Isaac and the score that is most widely used by lenders. MyFICO.com is Fair Isaac’s consumer website that allows people pay to see their credit score. Each person has three FICO scores that are based on data provided by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. After February 13, consumers will only be able to get two scores–those provided by Equifax and TransUnion.

If you are about to apply for a credit card, mortgage, or auto loan, experts suggest knowing all of the scores that the lender will receive and purchase the Experian-based FICO score while you still can. They recommend checking the details of each report to make sure no mistakes have been made that may harm your credit score.

Although consumers will no longer have this information from Experian, lenders in the loan application process will still use the score. Lenders and credit bureaus are becoming more accurate about the segmentation and criteria they use to judge the risk of borrowers. Typically, lenders are quick to use a change in credit score to increase rates and lower credit limits. Experts suggest that because this score is so important, lenders and credit bureaus should make the process a little more transparent to help consumers; in today’s tight, sensitive lending environment, even people with good scores are being affected and don’t understand why their scores may be changing.

FICO scores are the credit scores most lenders and financial institutions use to determine your credit risk. Each score is based on information the credit bureau keeps on file about you. Your scores go up or down as your information and account history changes. The three FICO scores are important because they affect both the amount of the loan and terms of the loan (interest rate, credit limit, etc.) lenders will offer you at any given time.

Experts explain that confusion can also arise as there are other credit bureau scores, such as VantageScore that have a different scoring system, and not all creditors report to all three bureaus. It is recommended to ask the creditor which report they pull before applying for a card or a loan.

One way a consumer can help protect his credit score is by regularly getting copies of his credit report to make sure there are no errors. A free report is offered each year through AnnualCreditReport.com.


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The information contained within this article was accurate as of February 8, 2009. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.