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Subject: Loved your site
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 01:06:55 EST

Wow, what a great site. Tons of very valuable information here. It is interesting to read the thoughts of the reporting agency's employees, especially the ones who believe that if people are interested in their credit scores there must be something bad in them. I think quite the opposite is true. The people I know who take the time to educate themselves on the issues do it because they have good reports and want to maximize them. The other thought I had while cruising through your site was that a couple of years ago while shopping for a car, a dealer ran my score. I showed some slight interest in it, and he told me my score and did a good job of explaining what made up the score. I think if more people made it clear that their business DEPENDS on being shown (or told) their score, this would empower the consumer. Won't tell me my score? I'll walk right out the door and buy somewhere else. Something to consider.

Thanks for writing. How did you hear about
I heard about your site after running a search for "Credit scoring system" on Google.
Thanks. I was just wondering because there were some unusually big spikes in the last two weeks-- three times the hit count in one day. Maybe it was on TV.

Subject: Letters
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 20:43:13 -0700

Dear Greg:
I have found references to your correspondence with Experian but I cannot locate the site in which they are located. could you please send me their address.

Subject: Re: Letters
Date:Fri, 16 Mar 2001 06:50:14 -0500

Subject: A question
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 13:47:18 -0800

Hi Greg,

It has been a while since I last emailed you but I still enjoy your site immensely. I noticed your link to all the domain names that Fair Issac owns ( and it made me wonder if they ever approached you about buying your site? Considering the names they have, it appears that they are very concerned about people like you creating sites that don't flatter them. Just curious. If you would rather not answer, I understand.


BTW - last year I went through a two week period of daily emailing with Craig Watts. He was very nice, but as with your correspondences, he never gave me a straight answer. I finally gave up. LOL

No offers from them. They realize that, after receiving one, I would make fun of it in public.

Yes, it's been since May; don't be a stranger.

Subject: Credit Scoring
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 07:49:46 -0500

It seems to me that Credit Agencies are rating us with a scoring number that should be made known to the individual. This information is not theirs, but belongs to the people they are rating. This is part of the Credit Report and should be made available as the laws have stipulated for the Credit Reports. Legal action (or at least public pressure) should be directed against these agencies.

If I had a web presence such as yours I would be consolidating efforts on all fronts to let these agencies know our feelings.

Otherwise, your site is very informative and helpful. Keep up the good work.

Lawsuits have been non-existent because of consumers' reluctance to have their credit reports splayed completely open (as evidence) for the world to see. Legislation, however, has worked-- at least, in California.

Subject: credit reporting
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 08:44:38 -0800 (PST)


Just finished reading your letters and have a similar tale to tell, only with Equifax, not Experian. I, too, am bumfuzzled as to how the scores are calculated, and frustrated. I also believe, being an analyst, that the scores do not actually reflect risk as their proponents maintain. They have become a tool to bludgeon the consumer. I have NEVER made a late payment, not ever. I have 3 credit cards, 2 below the 50% mark and I have a Beacon score of 628. Two years ago, I had 5 credit cards, 2 with a 75% max and a score of 740. The limits were lower and the total balances were lower, however, I made less than 1/2 in income what I make now. In other words, 10K debt if you make 30K a year is high risk. 10K debt if you make 100K a year isn't so high. The scores do not factor in income, which is a major flaw in assessing repayment risk.

But, to my story. I had a negative item added to my report that wasn't mine. It was there approximately a year before I knew about it (I hadn't applied for credit and was blithely going along paying my bills on time thinking I was an A+ credit risk). When I applied for a mortgage, it came to light. After 3 months of effort I succeeded in having it removed and received my updated report from Equifax on April 14. On April 17, Equifax provided information to the bank that held my Visa and Mastercard accounts (all paid ahead, no late payments ever). They reported the judgement, after I was told it had been deleted, and the bank closed all my accounts based on the "score" of 550. As they told me, I clearly fell below their objective determination for risk. I produced my dated reports (which I'd filed) to show the mistake. No one would listen. I filed a complaint with the FDIC. Someone listened then, but it took 6 months and a threat to file a lawsuit to get the bank to correct the status of the accounts they closed. They maintained they behaved appropriately based on the information provided by Equifax. I maintained that they purchased the data, I had proven it inaccurate, and they were a party to damaging my credit if they did not correct the account status. They had a conference call with Equifax in which the Equifax representative said that they had "inadvertantly" not noted in my file that the bank had requested my score. One of my contentions was that they did not have accurate data because my credit file from August did not contain a note of their inquiry, which by law, it should have.

Do you know of an consumer advocacy groups that lobby Congress to actually PROTECT those they were elected to serve, the consumers. The credit files have value, but they are being abused with the scoring methods as is. The only thing that should have bearing is my history of repayment and debt-to-income. Debt-to-income the CRA's don't have. If I repay all my loans on time, I should have a perfect score. Period. Why is that so hard. This is just a racket to create a justifiable method to charge higher rates to the majority of the population for borrowing. Something should be done and I'm willing to help. By the way, I'm considering suing Equifax for providing false information to the bank and generating an adverse credit decision. Know a good lawyer?

Thank you,

_____ _____ (Please withold my name due to the credit scores and detailed personal information. I don't want a lawsuit before I file my own).

When it rains, it pours. See, Part Two: Dirty Data.

I'm not surprised by your problems with Equifax; I just got the report of the information in my consumer file, and they couldn't even get my address right. We're all supposed to pay them $8.50 to help them with their quality control. Basically, the problem is that they try to manage too much data.

Perhaps trial lawyer Michael Lewis could make a referral if he's too busy to take your case.

Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 01:28:56 EST

Liked your messages to Trans Union and their responses. Useless.

I'm a mortgage broker in PA. with 25 years in the business and this credit scoring system stinks. Would be happy to help you if I can. Let me know.

Talk to your attorney general's office. They drew applause.

Subject: Questions
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001 12:42:37 EST

Mr. Fisher, I have enjoyed visiting your website. Your common sense questions about credit scoring and the "Lord of the Dance" answers have been very entertaining and informative.

I have several questions and would very much apreciate your input. I understand if you can't respond directly or at all.

Is there a "good" reference on improving FICO scores? I mean information which is somewhat more precise than everything I have found so far. I accept that this isn't a "Game Show", but I know my current situation needs correction. I do not have late payments or bankruptcies and do not know my credit score. However I am certain it is in a marginal category, at least partly due to high revolving credit balances. Even though my credit has been paid perfectly, the lowest rate I could get on my car loan last year was over 10%. Therefore my credit situation is costing me more than just the monthly interest charges. The reason I want to address this is that I anticipate looking for a new auto loan in about a year. I want to position myself for a better rate as well as address high debt load. I am not looking for a short term fix and I anticipate a year campaign, BUT what is a sensible course of action both financially and credit score-wise? This is the infuriating part of the credit scoring "twilight zone". Everything I read seems to say that some financially responsible actions can hurt your credit score, the opposite of what is intended. Two particular questions:
1. I currently have 5 credit cards at 98+% of credit limits. Even a moron would obviously know to get the revolving credit balances down. What percentage of credit balance/credit limit is "okay": 30%, 50%, 75%?

2. I also have a finance company revolving credit line at a furniture store. This was for a "six months same as cash" deal and it will be paid in full on time. I would like to know if it hurts me to leave it open with no balance owing or would it be better to close it.

Thanks and regards,

The main reference for improving an individual score is the score itself and top four reasons the score is not higher. Last month, Equifax and Fair, Isaac announced that the Equifax score will be available to consumers in the first quarter of 2001. When and if you will be able to get the other two-- from Experian and Trans Union-- is unknown. There are no concrete answers regarding how to determine the exact effect of your specific reactions to the "reasons."

The number of credit cards was used-- on this site, and by two U.S. House representatives (in a congressional subcommittee hearing) and a senator -- as an example of a factor which affects all consumers, yet is unrelated to the actual performance of paying obligations on time. But the answer as to how many to have remains elusive. Likewise, the "proportion of balances to limits" is another score factor having nothing to do with your propensity to pay your obligations as agreed-- and the effect is unknown. Finance company accounts have a different effect on the score than do accounts through banks; one of the scoring reasons is "Too many consumer finance company accounts." The effect of closing one is unknown to the public.

But, at least with the score and the reasons the score is not higher, you'll be able to guess at what actions to take.

Subject: credit scoring
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 22:13:49 -0400

Dear Greg Fisher,

I sat down with a mortgage company today to discuss taking out a 2nd mortgage on my house (tax break). I was informed that if my credit score was a little higher I would qualify for a lower interest rate. My obvious question... How do I raise my score?

The response, "Review your credit report."

My next question, "You misunderstood, I know to review my credit report. I'm asking for the credit scoring formula. If I had the formula then I would know whither to pay-off accounts, pay-down accounts, open or close accounts. How do I compute my score so I can optimize my credit report?"

The response, "I don't know, nobody knows, the three credit reporting agencies compute it".

This afternoon I have called Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian and they couldn't tell me either. Experian explained that the formula is in the software provided by "Fair Isaac".

I called Fair Isaac but could not talk to a real person so I posed my question to their faithful customer service answering machine. "How do I find the formula that computes my credit score. You are in fact grading me, so... if I asked my college professor/counselor how to raise my GPA there would be a formula of homework-quiz-exams-projects-absentees-tradiness-etc that would yield my score and formulate into my GPA. My question is... what is the formula that yields my credit score?"

While I am waiting on the response I started surfing the net and found your sight. I also printed all 39 pages of your discourse with Experian. It was like a 13 month crusade for the same info I have been trying to find for only a few hours.

To finally get to the point. There has got to be a better way for the consumer to know the criteria that is used to evaluate him. The quest for a credit score seems to be much like a journey through the Mystical Forrest of credit report entries and slaying the three trolls (Eq, Tu, & Ex) to find secret credit score key. Only then to realize you must cross the bridge and climbing to the top of Mt Fair Isaac just to obtain the cryptic formula. If someone ever unravels this cruel conundrum please let me know.

This is only my first day but if there is any support or help you need, let me know what I can do.


Subject: Credit Scoring
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 23:55:15 +0100

Just a short note to say how pleased I was to stumble accross your correspondence with Experian on the Web. As someone in the U.K who is constantly frustrated and angered by the seemingly underserved refusals of credit, and the total lack of any satisfactory explanation as to why from anyone, it is reassuring to see that I am not the only one.

Many thanks,

Subject: website
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 13:39:19 +0000

i found ur site though metacrawler which took me directly to ur letters page. i was doing a search trying to find a credit report site that would tell me my beacon. well, ur letters page made it very obvious that i wasn't going to find one. reading ur letters, and especially the phone calls, was pretty entertaing.

well at any rate, i used to work for a security system company that ran credit on all potential customers. less than a 600 was bad credit. less than 550, we wouldn't put in a system at all (although at 550, i personally wouldn't lend someone a dollar) our parent company bought our contracts from us and based what they paid us partly on the customers credit. so, for a customer with a 550- we barely got paid anything. a 600-more money- 650 a little more- and if the customer had say a 700+ we got paid lots of money.

i think the highest beacon i ever saw was a 750 or so, don't remember exactly. id really like to see what my beacon is. one way ive found to do it is apply for something over the phone. occasionally the operator will have the info on her screen. [deleted by] (cell phone company) gave my dad his beacon. im sure if i wanted i could go back to the security company and get them to run my credit.

maybe that's what u can do, set urself up as a compnay so u can get the "real" credit report, and run peoples credit for them. hehe. probably illegal or something.

well, like ur site. good luck fighting the good fight.

Subject: Great Job!
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 20:32:34 -1000
From: Kathy Durham
Organization: Guide to Financial Services

Hi Greg,

I found your site while researching an article I just completed on credit scoring, through my fellow Guide at who also has linked to your site-- Mike Killian, Personal Credit. My site is for the Financial Services Industry and I have twenty years experience in banking, primarily credit and lending. I could point to some errors on your page, and I could probably answer some questions, but that's not the point! You should have been able to find this information, and even with the incredible effort you have expended, you didn't. THAT is the point. My hat's off to you! You're providing a service that most people will not commit the energy and time to do. It is a service to consumers, but it is also a service to the industry. Even with the huge mergers and the huge corporations, individual consumers do have power and you're setting a very good example of how to exercize it. Personally, I also like your style! So refreshingly irritating! From my experience, I know that the models (particularly FairIsaac's) are quite reliable. But they aren't perfect AND we shouldn't be using tools inapppropriately or using something we can't explain. Period. Keep pluggin' away!

My article, Credit Scoring: Hiding the Ball? can be found:

Best regards,
Kathy Durham Guide to the Financial Services Industry

Subject: Re: Great Job!
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 09:51:49 -0400
From: Greg Fisher
To: Kathy Durham

Thanks, Kathy.

Stay tuned for the transcript from the FTC's forum on credit scoring... a dilly.

Subject: Your my hero
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 13:52:58 -0400

Dear Greg

Your correspondences with Experian were very impressive. You sir possess the tenacity of a Pit bull terrier. I proclaim you as the person I would least like to engage in a battle of wits.

I personally find it appalling that the consumer has no right to know what factors effect our ability to obtain credit or how we can influence the resulting scoring.

To simply say the way to achieve a high score is to pay your bills on time is insufficient. We must know how many accounts to have, what our debt to income ratio is ideal and so the list continues.

It seems that if you are a responsible person who always pays their debts even under adverse conditions means very little today.

We are judged by a set of numbers which we seem to have little control over. Its a little like being in college and taking an exam and receiving the score with out being told which questions you answered incorrectly. Leaves you feeling overwhelmed as if being lost in the desert and asking for directions and being given the answer that you are 20 miles from your destination with no direction to proceed.

The only way I see that we can solve this is through unity. We must unite and find a way to hit the CRA's in the pocket book. Maybe by refusing to do business with companies that utilize this scoring system without offering explanation to its make up and details as to the influencing factors.

Perhaps we could convince Bill Gates to start his own lending company and utilize a system of credit analysis that the consumer can understand thus making the CRA's and their customers feel the pinch.

I have seen my credit scores and have asked questions regarding the factors which effect them of several (more than 2 but less than 5) lending institutions and received varying answers.

One particular question I like is " How do inquiries effect my score?" When mortgage shopping I always go with a copy of my credit report so that they do not need to inquire. Every company wants to pull their own reporting before quoting you an official rate. So I as a consumer shopping for the best rate visit several mortgage company's and thus end up with a slightly lower score after each lender pulls their own credit report. I find this to be an interesting concept, in shopping for the best mortgage I hurt my ability to receive the best mortgage.

Pretty neat system "NOT"

Greg keep throwing down the gauntlet and feel confident that there many of us going into battle at your side.

My highest admiration for your skills in sarcasm and wit.

Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 18:01:59 -0700

I wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed your web site. I have been in mortgage lending for over 20 years and have seen all the changes that have taken place. Credit scoring has confused the consumer as much as the Truth in Lending Act for over 20 years.

I haven't gotten to read your whole site, I will take the time real soon.

I will watch for changes.

Best Regards,

Subject: Obtaining credit scores
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 22:34:17 PDT

Let me begin by explaining that I am an ordinary american citizen who decided to search the internet for information on just how to obtain my credit score (fair isaac and beacon). Up until a few days ago, I was under the misconception that creditors relied upon the same credit report that I was receiving in the mail from the major credit reporting agencies in order to arrive at decisions concerning the issuance of credit. I then learned that it is actually these numerical scores that are used to make those decisions.

Like yourself, I attempted to contact the reporting agency itself in order to get this information. As expected, they attempted to direct me to the company that developed the numerical model. I explained that they were very likely going to refer me back to the reporting agency since they are ultimately the ones who are using the models and imputing the information into them which creates the score. Their advice to me was to contact the Federal Trade Commission.

Before doing that, I decided to look on the internet to see if there was some way to find this information out. In my random yahoo search, I somehow stumbled upon your situation regarding one specific model. I must say that I was extremely impressed with your persistence, clarity and directness with regard to your inquiry. Although I am not currently contemplating a purchase which would require running a credit check, I see that it is important to find out just what things improve your score and what things hurt your score. Most importantly, I think it is important to know just what your score is! As I sit here poised to find out:

1) What is my score (at this moment in time);
2) Is there a standard/universal fair isaac score/ beacon score?
3) What is the formula(s) that is/are used to arrive at these scores?
4) What are the ranges of scores (bad/average/above average/excellent)?

I figured that I would check with you, before reinventing the wheel, to find out:

1) What happened in your situation. I began reading the April 23, 1997 correspondence and ended with the May 21, 1998 letter.
2) If you happen to know the answer(s) to any of my questions.

I greatly appreciate any information that you can provide.

Subject: Equifax letters
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 09:45:23 +700

Dear Greg -

I was looking on the web for information on credit scoring and came upon your Equifax letters. While it was enjoyable to read the exchange I couldn't take the time to read all of what is there. It was certainly clear from what I did read and as you were progressing up the corporate ladder at Equifax that your simple questions were never going to be answered. I have worked in the mortgage industry for four years and on all too many occasions have had to place people in subprime loans on the basis of the scores. I went to a mortgage industry seminar a couple of years ago and had a chance to talk to a represenative from Fair Issacs about the fact that credit decisions are being based on the credit scores but consumers either do not know that is the fact of the matter or they do not know how to improve the scores once they are identified as a problem. The "black box" that is the credit score formula puts consumers at a profound disadvantage. My question to you is, then: Did you ever get any information that could help guide my customers in improving their scores? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Subject: Experian
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 12:48:46 -0500 (CDT)

I'm not sure you'll receive this, but I have to say that I died reading your letters back and Forth to Experian...You sir are a Comedic Genius and should be commended for your actions and great way with words...I too am going thru some problems getting my questions answered by them and it is comforting to know that we have someone like you to Push em back on their heels. Even if they are too stupid to know what heels are..

My hats off to you Mr. Fisher

Subject: Kudos
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 15:53:45 -0400

God bless you for the public-spirited citizen you are; how wonderful of you to do all this work to clue in the semi-clueless (if we were totally clueless we wouldn't have found your site).

Subject: Beacon credit score
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 23:31:14 -0500
To: "''"

Boy, I thought I was the most inquisitive, but you beat me out. I'm an accountant (use to be in banking) and sometimes I too find dead ends in attempting to get answers to rather basic questions. You took the route I would have used. It's too bad that you could not find a regulatory agency that controls or monitors this area directly. My experience is that that have alot of clout with those they regulate, and answers can usually be obtained through their assistance.

What finally happened in your quest to find out how many credit accounts is too many, to qualify for the highest Beacon credit score?

Thanks for your efforts in educating the public about the credit scoring topic.


Subject: Re: Companies That Would Let You See Your Score
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 22:50:03 -0700

Dear Greg:

Thanks for your reply. I've been watching your site for the past six months or so. I've been doing lots of research on this for the past year because I will be mortgage shopping soon and think I found your site as a link on another I visited.

Another thing that might be beneficial would be for persons who know their scores to post the specifics: number of cards held, types of cards, length of credit, inquiries, amount of available credit, the actual score, and the four reason codes provided. Maybe they might fax you their combined credit reports (the ones the lender gets with the score and the reason codes) and you could present the results in tabular format on your site. With enough of these, we will see some trends and maybe get the answer to your question even if Fair Isaac and the three credit bureaus won't tell the truth.

Subject: RE: Credit Reports
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 19:57:58 -0700

I came across it from The Motley Fool. So is this to say that you have contacted the news reporting agencies? Also, I just called the phone number that Equifax gave to you concerning questions on scoring. It seems to be a Q/A line (can't be sure though the offices are closed right now). Well, keep up the good work. (Man did your letters to Experian get me mad, their arrogance was uncalled for).

Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 19:34:22 -0700


I must admit that I got a good laugh out of the e-mails, and US Mailings you sent to the credit reporting agency. Since then, have you found out how to obtain a perfect score?? This sounds like something 60 minuites would love.

Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 00:12:49 -0500 (CDT)


Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 09:26:46 -0500 (CDT)


Subject: Re: I saw my credit scores
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 00:28:00 -0400

Yes, each score listed its own reasons, which were mostly the same but in different orders. My scores:

Beacon: 00611
   account not paid as agreed, public record, or collection agency filing
   length of time or unknown time since acct not paid as agreed or trade rpted
   amount past due on accounts
   length of time accounts have been established

Fair Isaac: P0606
   account (s) not paid as agreed and/or legal item filed
   number of accounts delinquent
   length of time (or unknown time) since account delinquent
   time since oldest tradeline opened

Empirica: +00664
   serious delinquency, derogatory public record or collection
   insufficient length of credit history
   proportion of revolving balances to revolving credit limits too high
   proportion of loan balances to loan amounts too high

I'm guessing that they're calculating based on about 20 variables, with weighting for amount and inverse weighting for time. If I get a chance, I'll try to pull apart the data I've got and see if I come up with anything more. (I have, but didn't include, all the dollar amounts this is based on.) Do you have other scores and reasons you can compare these too to find a pattern?


From: Greg Fisher
Date: Thursday, May 27, 1999 8:31 AM
Subject: Re: I saw my credit scores

Did you receive the reasons your score was not higher?


Subject: I saw my credit scores
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 01:20:19 -0400


Just wanted to let you know that it is possible for mere mortals to find out their scores. When my wife and I got a mortgage with [name withheld by] last year, they sent us both the "consumer" version of our credit report, and a version that appears to be an "infile merge", which includes Beacon, Fair Isaac, and Empirica scores for both of us. (All in the 600-700 range.) The part that I found interesting was that this report didn't come from any of the "big three" reporting agencies, but from [name withheld by]. It also lists the price that [name withheld by] paid for the report as $16.00.

Let me know if you want more details about this. It looks like the report you were looking for. I can't answer the question "what is the right number of credit cards?" but it looks like the question maybe should be "What is the right proportion of monthly payments to total balance to credit limit?"

Thanks for all the info on the web site.

Subject: Experian
Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 18:51:06 -0700

So Greg, did you ever get the questions answered? I've been wondering the same for years.

I was riveted to the correspondence for 25 minutes straight! I laughed and cried. It was a cathartic "experian" for me as I've been writing to them for years to get my husband's and my score.

Bravo on the expos(ay)!


Subject: Re: Experian
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 01:47:44 -0400
From: Greg Fisher

Truth... stranger than fiction.

No answers to-date. At this point, all I expect to hear from them is their offer to buy the URL (can you believe those guys-- asleep at the switch while a guy like me swipes it?). I'm thinking $10 million. No, $35 million. Hey, wait a minute... how much a year do they pull in-- $5 billion?

Subject: Thanks Gregg
Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 00:16:34 -0500

Subject line says it all.

I appreciate your sharing what doubltlessly cost you a great deal of time & engery.

It's guys like you, (who do this w/o a book to sell), that make a difference.


Subject: credit scoring
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 10:43:20 -0400
From: Denise Richardson

"Hi Greg:

I wanted to tell you I found your site extremely informative and well done! My nightmare... has been filed in court, finally as I could no lnoger deal with trying to get them to abide by the FCRA, FDCA, and stop defaming my family. Credit scoring is a very big concern when so much INACCURATE credit reporting is happening to millions of consumers. Until they can report truthfully and accurately a scoring system will not work. It is based on lies and false accusations. If you haven't read my story that Christine Baker has on her links page you can also read about it at under "consumer nightmare" (which is a very good site) as well. I also believe that the government needs to enforce the laws that are intended to protect us as well as changing/halting the "scoring". If the laws were strictly enforced or laws were amended to deliniate hefty fines and penalties maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't be so reckless and uncaring about what they report and how we are treated.

Best Regards,
Denise Richardson"

Subject: An empty feeling
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 16:45:00 GMT

Greg Fisher (

I have read the information at the URL

I am left with an empty feeling as I have come to the last paragraph and see no answer's to your question's, which by the way I have been trying to find answers for several years.

Have you received the answer's to date?

I am interested in real estate investment in my city, and since I have a (not sufficient) credit rating, this seem's almost impossible although I have bought a house (seller financed) and have not missed a single payment and owe only 2 1/2 years until payoff, I also received a new credit card in the mail yesterday (one to many? one not enough?)

I will stop rambling for now.

Subject: Credit Score Reporting
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 07:43:17 -0400

I found you site and read through the letters. Hopefully this email will get to you. I just learned this past Monday that Equifax and the other "credit reporting agencies" provide the Beacon score, which is more than just credit reporting.

Did you ever resolve the questions you have been asking for months/years? It seems that Equifax and the others have such a good thing going for making money, we as consumers will never find out how they arrive at the numbers given to lenders.

I've found, despite what Equifax says, most lending institution won't read past the Beacon score if it isn't above their standards.

I may write some letters to the lending institutions requesting specifics.

Let me know if you have found any additional information.


Subject: shares in Equifax
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 10:14:57 PDT


Thanks for a great website.

Did you ever buy a share of Equifax in order to contact the shareholders? What happened?

Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 17:35:07 PDT
From: "why do you want to know"


My primary point: get a life.

You must be seriously retired or unemployed, because you have WAY too much time on your hands. Do you really, honestly think people want to sift through your pathetic pschodrivel? Do we care that you can't take a simple answer? [You need expensive software and half a brain to calculate your score.]

What's your major malfunction? Did a credit agency person run over your dog or something? What's with the vendetta? I think you owe that Experian secretary a major apology for wasting so much of her time and just generally for being an ass.

WHO CARES WHAT KIND OF CAR YOU HAVE. Did I miss something? Did you think you ought to get preferential treatment because you own a Cadillac?

If I were those poor Experian employees, I would have at least blocked your e-mail, at most, mail-bombed you; you're really annoying.

I really feel bad for people like you, who cannot find anything semiproductive to do with their lives.

Lots of Luck in Finding a Life

Subject: Re:
Date: Sun, 09 May 1999 11:55:02 -0400
From: Greg Fisher
To: why do you want to know

I shall not be daunted! I resolve to redouble my efforts.

p.s.: You forgot the question mark after "WHO CARES WHAT KIND OF CAR YOU HAVE."

Subject: Beautiful
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 17:05:54 -0400

Absolutely Beautiful, my head is swimming. I had no idea of the history of credit scores. Thank you.

Co-owner, [name withheld by] Mortgage Services Inc.

Subject: Greg: Monday 19th April
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 11:19:07 -0400


What a great site! I've just spent the last hour weaving my way through your stories.

We do need to get 20/20 or Ted Koppel or someone to stick it to these guys. As a 10 year veteran of mortgage banking, I'm with you all the way...

Subject: did you ever get your answer?
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 22:46:01 PDT

I am dieing to know....How many "revovling bank accounts" should one have?

Subject: Re: did you ever get your answer?
Date: Sun, 09 May 1999 12:09:35 -0400
From: Greg Fisher

So far, nothing.

Subject: Your Site
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 23:28:53 -0400

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into this. It was truly "eye opening".

As I am just starting down this path, I appreciate the insight your efforts show. While not uplifting to my expectations of understanding and controlling my "score", it certaining will prevent me from putting the blame on the poor souls I leave in the wake of my questions and pursuit of answers. I will remember the cause of this lies with the "repositories" and their methods.

If anything I believe would be of interest to you occurs on this journey, I will let you know.

P.S. You should put a "visit" counter on the first page. Maybe it would bolster your request for the industry to provide information.

Subject: GO Greg, YEAH!!!!
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 18:57:46 -0400

Hi Greg. I have just completed reading you correspondence with Equifax. Awesome. I too have encountered the credit bureau fiasco.

I have had erroneous information removed after, numerous letters, only to have it appear again a few months later. In some cases they would remove erroneous derogatory information and at the same time positive information. I must continually check my credit report...

... I am impressed with your tenacity and resourcefulness. What can I do to help? What about a web based effort to take control of the company? All dissatisfied consumers buy a few hundred, or what ever, shares of stock. How much would we need to change the board?

Go Greg.

Subject: credit score
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 22:31:53 -0600

Hi Greg,

I ran across your "discussions" with Eqifax.

Did you ever find out the components of a credit score ?


Subject: Re: credit score
Date: Sun, 09 May 1999 12:18:37 -0400
From: Greg Fisher

I'm sorry, no.

Subject: Getting your Credit Score
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 1999 23:16:40 -0500

DISCLAIMER: This may not work for all people, nor may it apply at all branches, but here goes:

[name withheld by], NA (recently merged with xxxx, NA to form Bank xxxx, NA), when opening a checking account, pulls a Beacon score. This score can be seen on the screen where they are keying information relating to forms they need to print. In my experience, this data is in the lower left or right corner, prefaced by the letters 'CS' and a colon (CS:) In addition, before they go to the forms print screen, CS: ### appears centered on an otherwise blank screen.

What good does this do you? Simple. xxxx will TELL YOU your credit score, upon request, at any branch. Mind you I have only tried this at these branches, all members of xxxx of Texas, NA:

([address withheld by])
([address withheld by])
([address withheld by])
([address withheld by])

Hey, it's worth a crack. While they claim to not know anything about the scores (all four branches gave me an explanation similar to 'we're not told what they mean, we're just told to give it to you,' so I tend to believe them), it could be useful to know.

Subject: Much Thanks !
Date: Fri, 2 Apr 1999 01:01:01 EST

Mr. Fisher you saved me from making several mistakes with my loan officer. I am currently going through the aches and pains of purchasing a new home and your website proved to be most helpful. Thanks again and keep on sticking it to those who feel they can keep on suckering the consumers.

God bless.

Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 18:35:59 EST

I love it, love it, love it.

I'm going to be buying a house soon and, as I'm 23 years old, I don't have much experience or knowledge about this area. While talking with the representative for the development that I would like to move into the word "Beacon" came up a lot. I did an internet search for "Beacon score" and your site came up.

Though I can see that you were given the run-around in your search for answers, the answers that you did get (or didn't get) made a lot of things clearer for me.

The links were extremely helpful. Don't give up in your search for truth, justice and the American Way.


Subject: The Beacon Score Question.......
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999 13:49:53 -0500

Hi, Greg Fisher.

After reading through all of your letters and phone conversations with Equifax and others regarding a simple question on The Beacon Score, I am quite curious. Did you ever get a satisfactory answer? Having just faced a similar diliemna in trying to purchase a car, I am eager to learn as much as I can about this and other credit issues. Boy, did I learn that I was completely ignorant in the matter, and unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a method to become educated.

Thank you for your time.

Subject: Re: The Beacon Score Question.......
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 12:21:09 -0500
From: Greg Fisher

I have not received a response to my last message, and they have responded neither to me nor publicly to this web site.

Bock, bock, bock.

Thanks for asking.

Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 20:50:04 -0700

All i can possibly say at this time is;


Subject: Scores
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 14:12:45 -0600


Thanks for your site. I find it very interesting that nobody wants to say what is a valid score or what your score should be or even how to improve your score. As info, I was recently told at a car dealership that to qualify for the best lease rates through (name withheld by Leasing that I need a FICO score of 695.

Now see scoring for insurance. Ed.

Date: Sun, 21 Mar 1999 23:23:41 -0500

Mr. Fisher:

I must say, reading about your experience with the credit reporting agencies was quite interesting.

I recently leased a new truck. When the salesperson pulled my creidt, he let me see it. He kept saying that he wasn't supposed to and that "consumers aren't allowed to see their Beacon Score." This comment sparked my own curosity, and I began investigating.

I have several friends in the financing arena. Some of these people are close personal friends...of all the people who I spoke to about this mysterious "Beacon Score," nobody seemed to know where it came from. I have heard some interesting stories, though. One which was quite interesting was that they see people with nearly the same credit limits, lengths of accounts, and income. None have a high number of inquiries, and none have any collections and/or bankrupticies (sp.)...their score, however, would not reflect their may have a 600, another may have a 550, and the last a 750.

This leads me to believe that perhaps the Beacon is just an arbitrary number generated on the fly based NOT upon your creditworthiness, but perhaps on the time of day and the day of the week, and perhaps even the position of the moon. Maybe that's why you can't get an answer out of anyone!!!!! :)

Seriously, though...

When I began hearing all these things, I decided to scope out the Internet to see if someone, somewhere has done research (perhaps as a thesis or something) on how the score is calculated. That's when I came across your site.

My point of this letter?:?: To thank you on providing such an immense number of manhours researching the subject, and perhaps enlightning the public on how their personal information is being sold to others, without being openly disclosed to themselves. Additionally, I would like to express my converse opinion of the gentleman who was "sorry" that you decided to take on this "mission."

The entire concept is truly fustrating, and I'd like you to know that you are not alone in feeling the annoyance of the credit reporting companies' abuse of personal information.

Thanks again for a very infomative and eye-opening site.

Have a wonderful day, and best of luck!


Daytona Beach, Florida

PS...sorry I didn't use PROPRIETORY in my letter :)

Subject: scoring
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 16:47:51 EST

Who in the hell do they think they are, its time to start a new credit company we need to put them out of business, and fast !!!

Subject: credit scoring
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 06:37:09 -0500

Dear Mr. Fisher,

I have spent a great deal of time reviewing your site and wish to applaud you on your efforts. I would also like to thank you for the thorough education that I received as a result of your work. I plan on making many people aware of your site, if there is anything else I can do to help, please let me know.

Subject: Beacon Scores
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 01:18:01 EST

Dear Mr. Fisher:

My husband and I have been trying to buy a home for the past year through a mortgage company who uses the Beacon credit scores. We had some problems in the past, but are only 26 and 27 years old and believe that all of our credit mistakes occurred over 7 years ago. We were both in college. Since our credit has been clean for the past 7 years and we have never had a bankruptcy, we would really like to know the scoring criteria for Beacon as well. We would like to know what else we can do to improve our score. Please let us know if you ever get a straight answer! Although I'm sure it was frustrating, we admire your dedication and were entertained by your persistence and humor dealing with the situation. Good luck.

Dear Greg,

I learned of your web site after I did a search for "beacon score" on the www. To my amazement my search yeilded only 2 hits, yours and that of Landmark Mortgage at Interestingly, the Landmark page begins with a full paragraph explaining that the FairIssac trademark name had to be removed from their website due to FairIssac's attorneys requests/demands relating to trademark infringement. Hmm....

So, i write you mainly to say that i am amazed that the term "beacon score", which is fairly well known to many folks who try to "keep their finger on the pulse" of their credit history, draws only two hits on the webcrawler search engine. But hey, after reading your web page, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. What a damned shame that we've been conditioned to expect less as consumers.


[name withheld by request]

Subject: I work for a major credit reporting agency.
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 14:55:01 EST
From: [name withheld by author]

My first reaction was to say, "If you are driving a ' 78 Cadillac, you must have poor credit. Why else would you be so fired-up about a credit rating? People who pay their bills never seem to find time to worry about a credit score. What a coincidence."

However, that's not fair. I know you desire an official explanation from the major repositories (that's what we call ourselves), and you probably want your score and some explanation of what it is relative to other scores, etc.

Let me give you the spin on why scores are "protected": Scores are protected because they are down-right confusing. Also, a score is NOT part of a credit report. It is a product sold with a credit report.

Somebody should be up front with you and reply in this manner:

Mr. Fisher,

Although I cannot speak for all repositories, I can pass on our feelings here at XYZ.

We feel consumers are idiots. There is no law that says we must feel otherwise. Since scores do not have to be disclosed, we choose not to disclose them. There is no financial gain in disclosing your score to you. Actually, there is a penalty. The penalty is discussing it with hundreds of thousands of people on our toll-free number and using our time and money to do it.

Fact is, Mr. Fisher, the very companies of which you are a customer also feel that you are a world-class idiot. Not just you, per say, but all their customers. A good example is a Credit Card company. They do nothing out of respect for you. If they do anything for you, it is for your cash, or to comply with a law. They offer a plethora of services which net no immediate gain, but ensure you will stick around with them and spend more money.

Well, why beat around the bush? We choose not to deal with you or discuss scores because we are driven by profit. Taking time to deal with you decreases our profits - and there isn't a thing wrong with protecting our profits. Capitalism, Mr. Fisher, is not a dirty word.

If you somehow convince enough people to initiate a bill that forces companies to disclose scores and to discuss them, chances are it will all be very entertaining. I guess we'll have to do it. I imagine it will sound something like this: "Oh, you want to increase your Empirica score? Jump in your friggin' time machine and go back to 1995 and pay the student loan for which you never got a deferrment." That is the sort of conversation that will take place after credit bureaus are forced to discuss scores.

Now, we understand that some customers are turned down by banks for credit because of things like "Too many revolving accounts". [expletive delted], it's their money, if they don't want to lend it to someone dumb enough to walk around with three credit cards, that's there perogative.

You, Mr. Fisher, are no customer of ours; therefore, we laugh at you. " Nyahh Nyahh ! ".


XYZ Credit Bureau.

Subject: FICO
Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 14:01:14 EST

It did not take them "... 35 years to get it right ...." as you've suggested. It's NOT new, it's just new to YOU and residential real estate first mortgage type lenders. It's been common at banks and finance companies, to my own direct and personal knowledge, since 1966. I remember when it was installed at Beneficial, one year Before Credit Data Corporation (CDC- later TRW now experian) was even born!

I have not studied your site, it looks quite thorough, HOWEVER I can tell you, from the trenches as an operator, over time the Fair/Isaac kids stuff works!

Peter Samuel Cugno

Subject: Re: FICO
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 05:46:30 -0500
From: Greg Fisher
References: 1

Actually, here's what the web site says. I'll use a technique we call "cut and paste." You should learn it.

"... Whenever somebody writes something about them concerning the recently adopted practice in mortgage banking of using credit scores-- because they have hardly anything to say about how scoring works-- they typically use the filler: Fair, Isaac "pioneered credit scoring" (see inset), "scoring is nothing new," and something about the company being in the game for years, "since 1956... "

That only means it took them 35 years to convince the industry to use scoring."

See? The text doesn't say what you quoted.

A suggestion: stay out of the news business. People don't like misquotes. And they'll sue you. Perhaps, however, it is just a typo. Indeed, there are three other errors in your message.

By the way, I have to hand it to: you are one prolific writer. On the page a quarter of the entries are yours.

Here's one:

"Are you commenting on the wisdom of "banks", sounds like you are -- and you're right! Four inquiries in a one week period can not effect a FICO 40 points. There were other factors in her file, which also changed during that period. Call FairIsaac in Northern California, they'll explain the degree to which inquiries effect scores -- the answer is "very little," by the way... "

By gosheroonie, Samuel Peter Cugno, how about YOU filling us in? Tell us your definition of "very little." How many could it have dropped the score? Give us a number. 39? 30? 20? 10? 5? 1? Make a stand and stop with the generalities. Anybody can do what you do.

Let's see if you can answer the same simple question posed to all levels at the national credit reporting agencies, from customer service, to members of the boards: How can I tell what is the right number of bank revolving accounts?

We have been waiting for the answer for 18 months. We're just regular consumers who want an answer to a simple question. If the CRAs can't answer it, what in the world is the consumer supposed to do with those four reasons that come with a score?

Here is another good one: May I have my score, please?

Fair, Isaac needs believers like you: people with blind faith so deep and old, they've lost their power of rational, independent thought.

Subject: Re: FICO
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1998 08:48:21 EST

I like this cut and paste thing, that's real nice. You sound very much like a Harvard Debate Team Leader ... I on the other hand, seem to possess "blind faith so deep and old" ... that I've ..."lost (all of my) their power of rational, independent thought.

The inquiry number happens to be negative 13 score points, if 7 inquiries happen within a 10 day period. That's what they told me, when I asked hem that last year. As far as credit cards go, 5 is the right number, owing 50% of the high credit limits on all. BUT, I'm sure your research has already turned up those numbers ... goof luck in your fight for full disclosure.

I promise I won't ever quote you again, for trembling fear of being sued.

Subject: credit scoring
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 19:40:39 -0700 (MST)
From: [name withheld by author]


In the process of buying my first home, I received a copy of my credit report. At the bottom was the credit score, with no context or explanation. A quick web search led me to your site, which is most informative, and answered many of the questions I had.

I was impressed by your persistence in dealing with the CRAs, yet not too surprised by their lack of cooperation.

However, another approach to solving the problem comes to mind. Why not try to "reverse-engineer" the scoring algorithm? That is, first figure out what the "30 or so" factors that go into the score are. Then collect as many credit scores and their corresponding factors from as many people as possible? I bet lots of people would volunteer to give you an anonymous version of the credit score & associated factors. If you had enough of these, it should be possible to answer your questions, like "how many credit cards is the right number".

A second approach to your answering your specific question also occurred to me. I don't know about you, but I get about one (dinner-time) phone-solicitation for a credit card a week. My new excuse to these requests will be "I'd like to get your credit card, but that would lower my credit score, by having too many credit cards, or too many new credit cards". If enough people did this, I think that the credit card companies would push back on the CRAs, or at least make this information public.


Subject: Re: credit scoring
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 00:25:35 -0400
From: Greg Fisher 
From: [name withheld by author]
References: 1

Catch-22. We could probably come close enough to make an educated guess, but if someone took the time to reverse-engineer the reports into scores, the national CRAs could negate the awesome task by releasing (on their own volition, or by being compelled by the law) the scores. Also, the statistical randomness may be invalid because only volunteers would be submitting their reports -- I can hear the experts complaining now.

We need a fourth bureau-- like Fox, the fourth network.

A low-tech approach is probably the answer -- we could have a little fun with it, maybe offering a cash award to the person submitting the highest score and their explanation of their savvy. That, of course, will raise its own debate: can a score based on conscious activity be valid? Sounds Orwellian, but the bean-counters would probably prefer us to be less aware of their existence. Then again, the cat's out of the bag, now, anyway. Then again, maybe their regression analysis is smart enough to take that into account ("Your score is too high-- based on your past, you appear to be gunning for it, now. Lose 100."). Then again, we don't know because they're not talking. I'm thinking a prize of a thousand bucks.

Didn't Robert McNamara's quant jocks uses quantatative methods to run the Vietnam war?

Your idea on telemarketing is a one-two punch that should shut them up quickly. By the way, telemarketers have to identify themselves with an address or telephone number. For the low-down on winning legitimate cash awards from them if they don't follow the law when they call, visit Also, don't miss Phil Rice's page on a well-fought layman's lawsuit. The decision is pending. Like credit scoring, it's real, high drama.

Subject: Credit Scoring
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 19:53:50 -0700
From: [name withheld by author]


Credit scoring was designed for "risk assessment", however in practicality it has become a "speed & weed" tool with "zero tolerance" for rectification and/or explanation for the unfortunate person whom gets snared. The reason for the disparity is quite simple the market will not tolerate "exceptions" and the FOR PROFIT CRA's have a disincentive to "real-time" correct/expunge ones' report. In other words, there is NO time to repair the damage and reverse an computer/underwriters adverse decision. Call me or Email me to discuss further.

president of mortgage bank and 15 year mortgage banking industry veteran

Subject: Re: Credit Scoring
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 01:10:03 -0400
From: Greg Fisher 
To: [name withheld by author]
References: 1

I agree accuracy is a major issue-- but it was purposely ignored by to deal, without tangents, with the issue of non-disclosure of scores to consumers. Accuracy is a question of degree, where disclosure is a yes/no argument that can actually be resolved-- with either disclosure or refusal to disclose.

Unless we consider national level credit reporting agencies to be incompetent now (so there is a chance they could become competent and remedy the problem with the same amount of revenue), greater accuracy and real-time correction will likely result in higher costs.

What do you think the CRAs should do to correct the accuracy problem? Other than those allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, should there be negative consequences for creditors who provide incorrect data to CRAs, or for CRAs who provide incorrect data (not caused by creditors) to end users?

Thanks for writing. How did you hear about the site?

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