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Credit Score Versions and Models, Classic FICO

If you think that you have only three FICO scores, guess again

| By Greg Fisher

Fannie Mae DU BEACON 5.0 [45 day] Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model V2 [14 day] FICO Risk Score, Classic 04 [45 day]
myFICO BEACON 5.0 [45 day] Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model V2 [14 day] FICO Risk Score, Classic 98 [14 day]
Equifax BEACON 5.0 [45 day]
TransUnionCS FICO Risk Score, Classic 98 [14 day]

Source: Fannie Mae, Fair Isaac

Inconsistency between Fannie Mae, and Fair Isaac and TransUnion

Fannie Mae accepts certain FICO credit scores for its automated underwriting system Desktop Underwriter. But, a FICO score sold to consumers by Fair Isaac and one of the national consumer reporting agencies is not the same model as the one in the Fannie Mae DU manual.

The newest version of the TransUnion FICO is FICO Risk Score, Classic 04 and is accepted by Fannie Mae in its "Guide to Underwriting with DU." However, if a consumer wants to find out that score prior to a mortgage loan application, he will find an older version at the only two places that sell genuine TransUnion FICO scores. and provide FICO Risk Score, Classic 98, not the newest version.

A premise in consumers' shopping for mortgage or auto loans is that lenders will access credit reports and scores to evaluate credit repayment habits. But those inquiries, themselves, are recorded in consumers' files (credit reports) and become a factor in the score eventually. One difference in the two TransUnion scores is the treatment of inquiries.

Mortgage and auto inquiry rules

Over time, the FICO formula was adjusted to allow consumers to shop for mortgage or automobile loans without significantly lowering their scores due to inquiries. Today, all mortgage- or auto-related inquiries in the 30-day period prior to the score's creation (the day of an inquiry) are ignored by the score. Mortgage and auto inquiries made prior to 30 days are grouped by time spans and counted as just one inquiry per span.

TransUnion Classic 98 provides a 14-day span for inquiries, and eventually, Classic 04 was introduced and provides a 45-day window.

Experian inquiry cancels out 45-day shopping span

The unfortunate trap of the matrix of credit scores is that the Experian score delineated by Fannie Mae for use in its AUS is a model that uses a 14-day shopping period. The other two bureaus' scores are 45-day. So, the consumer defaulting to the lowest time-span to avoid a lower score has to keep the inquiries to a 14-day period; the 45-day advantage of the other scores is practically neutralized due to the lowest common denominator, the Experian score. It just takes the joy out of it all. What keeps Fannie Mae from accepting the 45-day inquiry span score from Experian?

Some names of versions of FICO risk scores

Equifax Experian TransUnion
  • BEACON 5.0
  • BEACON 96
  • Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model V3
  • Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model V2


Fair Isaac, 2003: BEACON 5.0 coming to Equifax in May [2003]

Equifax, 2005: "... ScorePower gives consumers access to their BEACON 96 score... "

FICO 08: Denver Post: "The fifth generation of the formula... "

No versions mentioned by Fair Isaac on these pages: "FICO Score," "About credit scores"

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