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Marketplace

FICO scores are going to change. Here’s how.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer and Sabri Ben-Achour Oct 22, 2018
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The creator of the FICO score, the standard for determining lending risk, has some big changes in store for some consumers.

“It could be a game changer,” said Ted Rossman, an industry analyst with CreditCards.com, “because this is really geared toward people who have subpar credit, or people who don’t have credit at all.”

Fair Isaac Corp. — FICO for short — is going to change how the score is calculated. The new Ultra FICO score should make it easier for people with imperfect scores to qualify for credit. It will look at more information, including data from consumers’ checking and savings accounts. 

New factors that could work in consumers’ favor include “not having a history of negative balances. It includes having savings and transacting responsibly,” said Sally Taylor, scores vice president at FICO.

Taylor said there are 53 million people in the United States who do not have FICO scores, and the new Ultra FICO will catch 10 million to 15 million of those.

“The folks that’ll benefit the most from this are the folks who have marginal credit scores or who really don’t have much credit,” said Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America.

Lenders are eager for new borrowers, including people who don’t have high scores but still pay their bills on time, as interest rates continue to rise. But there’s an element or risk for lenders, said Jonathan Glowacki, a principal at consulting firm Milliman.

“It’s very easy to create credit scores when the economy is going well and defaults are very low,” he said. “Where the rubber’s going to hit the road is when we hit the next rough patch.”

To hear Sabri Ben-Achour’s reporting on FICO scores, click the audio player above.  

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