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Blow by blow, from day one

Index | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998

12/31/04

  • (The Shill and the Quill--Fair Isaac team member Orman calls competitor fake) Sacramento Bee, 12/02/04: "Learning the score on credit reports"
    Suze Orman, the fast-talking television finance expert, began using the term "Fake-O" to describe these scores after people called her weekly "Suze Orman Show" on CNBC in confusion.

    "I said, 'Don't you understand you're not getting a FICO score? You're getting a Fake-O,'" she recalled Wednesday from her home in South Florida. "It was during one of my rants."

    • creditscoring.com, July 11, 2001: "FICO/Fake-o?"
    • creditscoring.com, February 23, 2002: "(FICO vs. fake-o)"
    • creditscoring.com, June 16, 2002: "Score popularity contest: FICO vs. Fake-O"
    • creditscoring.com, July 14, 2002: "Experian, drop your score. The FICO/Equifax cartel cleaned your clock and you are just trying to confuse people by distributing your Fake-O like the FICO."
    • creditscoring.com, August 11, 2002: "FICO vs. Fake-O (Why would anybody want the 'TransUnion score,' now?)"
    • creditscoring.com, May 5, 2003: "FICO vs. Fake-O (this is getting old): Experian still won't give you the real score."

    Fair Isaac Co. (FICO) press release, 5/25/04: "myFICO.com, a division of Fair Isaac Corporation (NYSE:FIC), and personal finance expert and best-selling author Suze Orman have teamed up to produce a first-of-its-kind credit improvement service for consumers."

    Web site: Suze Orman's FICO Kit

    John Cook, Chicago Tribune: "Financial guru says ethics are different for a 'celebrity'" - "'Whether the reporters who have bashed me for years want to believe it, Suze Orman has become ... somebody that America has embraced.'"

    Google "suze orman" motors gm

  • Kenneth Harney: "A dirty little secret of the credit card industry might cost you big bucks the next time you apply for a mortgage." (alt)
    • December 2004 report by the FTC: "The information relevant to a credit score includes items that have not typically been regarded as 'negative,' such as number and type of tradelines, credit limits, inquiries, and open dates of accounts." (also, search for "limits" within that document for more information)
    • Consumer Federation of America U.S. House testimony:
      Let me add that the Federal Reserve has come to similar completions about one aspect of the problem that we highlight, and that is the completeness of reporting by creditors. The primary area of concern that they identify with data integrity was that of missing credit limits. This can have a major detrimental effect on consumers' credit score and on their credit rating overall. (alt)
    • Senator SARBANES: Well, I just want to ask Mr. Hildebrand. Does Capital One report the maximums on the credit limits?
12/21/04
  • creditscoring.com author's 9/17/04 public comment submitted to the Federal Reserve regarding credit reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion's illegal practice (hiding information from consumers): "Since your study deals with disputes of accuracy of consumer information, it would be incorrect for you to assume that a consumer can obtain all the information in his files in the first place."

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act (the basis for the argument):

    Every consumer reporting agency shall, upon request, and subject to 610(a)(1) [§ 1681h], clearly and accurately disclose to the consumer:
    (1) All information in the consumer's file at the time of the request, except that nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to require a consumer reporting agency to disclose to a consumer any information concerning credit scores or any other risk scores or predictors relating to the consumer.
    That part of the law has existed since 1996 (also, see Case 4).

  • San Francisco columnist v. Capital One: "I immediately called Don back and pointed out the potential consequences for one's credit score."
  • Forbes: "There's an irony to the cascade of numbers: They reduce individuals to a string of digits yet allow us to define ourselves in the sea of humanity."
  • (They should stick to taxes) Quicken: "Your FICO can range from 200 to 900." (Fair Isaac: "300-850")
  • Score Watch
    • Equifax press release: "Equifax and Fair Isaac Introduce First Credit Score Monitoring Service"
    • Fair Isaac press release (same as Equifax, above)
11/12/04
  • CBS Marketwatch.com:
    • "One late payment -- say, you go on vacation and forget a bill -- is enough to topple your 800 score, where you are in the top 10 percent nationally, by as much as 160 points to a below-average 640."
    • "Consumers know all about the importance of checking their credit score regularly, but few realize not all scores are created equal."
  • Consumer Federation of America: "MOST CONSUMERS DO NOT UNDERSTAND CREDIT SCORES ACCORDING TO A NEW COMPREHENSIVE SURVEY"
  • "Allstate Insurance, in a proposed settlement of part of a nationwide class-action lawsuit, has agreed to make sure customers are notified if their credit scores were used to decide rates on insurance policies."
  • SmartMoney.com: "Guess Who's Looking at Your Credit Report" - "A growing number of companies — many of them having nothing to do with the business of offering credit — are also scrutinizing the data on those reports to decide whether to do business with you, and how much to charge."
9/12/04
  • TXU Energy
    • Office of Public Utility Council: "OPC states that the letters mailed to customers did not inform customers that prices were based on credit scores and the letters cited natural gas prices as the cause of the price ‘adjustment’ rather than the results of credit scores."
    • AP: "Another issue: TXU did not tell customers of the credit plan."
    • Dallas Business Journal: "TXU officials have said that customers who don't like the rates are free to switch to another provider."
    • CBS:
      • "'You don't get credit to pay the grocery bills.'" - TXU Energy Chief Executive Paul O'Malley
      • "Carol Peters, a TXU spokesman, said the customer's history of making payments to TXU Energy would be considered."
      • "To determine who will and won't get discounts, TXU is using credit scores from the national agency Experian."
    • Experian: Telecommunications, Energy and Cable (TEC) Risk Model - "Reduce risk and boost your bottom line."
  • AP: "Prosecutors said Monday that insiders eliminated damaging credit information from files at TransUnion, Equifax Inc. and the Experian subsidiary of GUS."
  • Eileen Alt Powell, AP: "After applying online for a position as a patent specialist, she was called in for interviews that seemed to go well."
  • (Experian PLUS score) - "Experian study reveals relationship between auto loans and credit scores"
    • Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic: "Experian did not determine why Southwestern states score poorly... [Experian's] Greer cited relatively low incomes and large immigrant populations as possible factors."
    • Fair Isaac U.S. Senate testimony: "Studies have concluded that the same Fair Isaac credit score indicates the same level of risk regardless of the income level of the consumer or whether the consumer resides in an area with a high percentage of minority residents, with differences consistently favoring the low to moderate income (“LMI”) and high minority area (“HMA”) applicants."
    • Jack C. Harris, Texas A&M : "And recent research shows that low-income borrowers are no more likely to default than other income groups, supporting the likelihood of the experiment’s success."
    • creditscoring.com to Experian:
      To: heather.greer@experian.com
      From: "creditscoring.com"
      Subject: creditscoring.com; "Experian study reveals relationship between auto loans and credit scores"

      In an article regarding automobile repossessions in the Arizona Republic, this is attributed to you:

      "Greer cited relatively low incomes and large immigrant populations as possible factors."

      What evidence do you have that income correlates to automobile repossession?

  • (FICO Expansion Score) Kathy M. Kristof, Los Angeles Times: '`'Between 5 percent and 15 percent of all loan applications are just dropped on the floor because there is no score available for that person,' said Craig Dillon, vice president of global scoring solutions at Fair Isaac."
8/13/04
  • The FICO Expansion score
    • Fair Isaac press release: "This FICO score can tap non-traditional sources of consumer data to assess the credit risk of adults who have minimal or no credit history on file."
    • Eileen Powell, AP: "Dillon declined to name financial institutions that have agreed to begin using the new score but said that among those showing interest were mortgage and auto lenders as well as companies that sell wireless phones."
    • Michelle Singletary: "But Catherine Williams, vice president of financial literacy for Money Management International, a consumer counseling organization, sees potential for problems."
  • Commentary on FICO scores by Richard Courtney: "For the college football fans, this formula is similar to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS)."
  • Critical Mass Media: Experian National Score Index campaign matures
    • Winners and losers
      • Bankrate.com: "Best and worst cities for credit scores"
      • Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, 4/23/04: "Twin Cities top nation in residents' credit scores"
      • "Experian's national index gives South Dakotans the best average credit score."
      • Sacrmento Business Journal: "Survey: Sacramentans' credit rating below average"
      • Denver Post: "The average credit score in Colorado is 675, slightly below the national average of 678 and the Denver average of 676, according to the website."
      • "Dallas-Fort Worth ranks dead last among major U.S. metropolitan cities... Texas also came in last among all states with a score of 652."
    • Do lenders use the Plus Score? Experian says, "The Experian-developed PLUS Score model is a user-friendly, consumer-focused credit score... The new score was created in response to the need for U.S. consumers to improve their knowledge of credit and how it affects them."
    • Pay close attention to the confusion
      • In an article in the Duluth News Tribune, the average of a score is 658 (not 678 nor 720). After-ran TransUnion emerges with its own study and gets a little press. So there. Zachary Hastings Hooper (Super De-Duper) (zachary@rosengrouppr.com) says "the Midwest actually did very well," but Rochester, N.Y., scored highest.
      • Duelling scores: "TransUnion said Madison's average score is 698, compared to the national average of 658. TransUnion monitored 22,000 [!!!!] Madison residents in calculating the score. Experian sampled more than 7,000 [!!] consumer scores in the Madison area."
      • Muddy waters. 34 \> 40. TransUnion: "Four in ten Americans know nothing at all or not very much about their credit scores... The problem is even worse for Americans under the age of 24, 34 percent of whom report knowing 'nothing at all' about their credit score." [?]
    • Channel 2, Houston: "Dispelling Credit Score Myths" (and helping to create more). "Typical scores range from 350 to 850, with the higher score being better." Experian: "It can range from 330 to 830."
4/11/04
  • Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times: "Her attorneys are suing Fannie and Freddie for racial discrimination, arguing that the firms' 'credit scoring' programs for rating mortgages violate the civil rights of minorities."
  • The press falls for Experian's PR campaign about the National Score Index
    • "The average credit score for the U.S. is 678, so residents in the Minneapolis and Boston areas are doing a far better job of managing their credit compared to the rest of the nation," said Charles Chung, vice president of consulting and analytics for Experian... For further information, please contact: Heather Greer of Experian Consumer Direct, +1-714-830-7756, heather.greer@experian.com"
    • "The average credit score for the U.S. is 678... " However, the Wall Street Journal states, "The median score is roughly 720." Confused? We're just getting started.
    • St. Paul Pioneer Press: The Twin Cities area posted the highest average consumer credit score of 20 major metropolitan areas, according to a report released Thursday by Experian, one of the nation's largest credit scoring agencies. (What a coincidence! That's right in his back yard: Tom Grudnowski, CEO, Fair, Isaac, Minneapolis, Minnesota)
    • Sacramento Business Journal: "Survey: Sacramentans' credit rating below average"
    • A perfect example of the ensuing confusion in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
      "The average credit score nationally is 678, according to Experian. In Pennsylvania, the average is slightly higher at 696."
      Now, in the very next sentence:
      "According to myfico.com, the difference between having an excellent credit score and a poor one (poor is considered between 500 and 559) would mean the difference between paying 5.7 percent and 9.4 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage in Pennsylvania, costing the borrower an extra $92,000 over the life of the loan."
      So, which score are are they talking about? Experian PLUS, or FICO?

    • Experian PLUS Score disclaimer: "Please be aware that there are many scoring models used in the marketplace, and each lender's scoring model has its own set of factors."
  • Fox/henhouse
    • March 4, 2003: "Fannie Mae Names New Members to its National Advisory Council" - "Tom Grudnowski, CEO, Fair, Isaac, Minneapolis, Minnesota."
    • (They must have made up) Fannie Mae Chairman, March, 2000: "Our next step is to stop relying on the FICO credit score, which is too opaque."

  • A Book Tour

    Rona Johnson, Grand Forks Herald:

    "It seems that every time you get a credit card, the retailer checks your credit history, which can cost you 12 points off your credit score, according to Gail Marks Jarvis, a business columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press."
    Gail MarksJarvis, St. Paul Pioneer Press:
    "In fact, the discount on a one-time store purchase can end up costing a consumer thousands of dollars down the line on everything from car loans to home mortgages and even insurance, says Stephen Snyder, author of a book to be released in February called "Do You Make These 31 Mistakes With Your Credit?... Every time you open a credit card account, a store must inquire about your credit history, and each inquiry reduces your credit score. One inquiry can shave as much as 12 points off your credit score, says Snyder." (alt)
    To: stephen@afterbankruptcy.com
    From: creditscoring.com
    Subject: credit score, inquiries, 12 points
    Date: April 11, 2004
    cc: gmarksjarvis@pioneerpress.com, rjohnson@gfherald.com, maryann@afterbankruptcy.com

    Who told you that one inquiry can reduce a credit score by as much as 12 points? The readers of creditscoring.com would be interested in the source of that information.

    See http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/7552186.htm and http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/7732018.htm.

    Thanks.

  • You just can't win - LORENE YUE , Detroit Free Press: "'There are only two things that you can do that have a relatively quick effect on your score,' said Craig Watts, consumer affairs manager for Fair Isaac Corp. 'Pay down high balances and check over a credit report' for errors... A request for a higher limit will show up on your credit report, and too many of those inquiries can count against you, said Joel Greenburg, a founder of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies and president of NovaDebt counseling services in Freehold, N.J."
  • Jeff Gelles, Philadelphia Inquirer: "What happens to our city Camry driver with a top credit score? The yearly rate would drop to $1,610. With a lousy score, it would jump to $3,536."
  • Helen Huntly, St. Petersburg Times: "'She may have been been turned down due to inquiries, but not to inquiries connected to this loan shopping' experience, [Fair Isaac's] Watts said."
3/30/04
  • Mail: "Thanks for an insightful piece and for taking the time to illustrate how crazy the whole process is."
  • Consumer Reports: "Clean up your credit score"
  • Denver Post: "He describes the index as a marketing tool designed to foster score envy and get consumers to buy Experian credit reports for $14.95." (an even bigger question: What in the world is the PLUS Score, and what lender uses it?)
  • Sacramento Bee: "Canceling credit card may affect your rating"
  • Reed Smith: "United States: Fair Credit Reporting Act Amendments: A Summary and Analysis"
  • Resume of Andrew Flint: "Designed and coordinated development of web service to provide FICO credit scores and explanations to lenders and consumers; co-authored explanation algorithms with patents pending."
  • U.S. Banker: "Fair Isaac & Co. is busy marketing the very credit score it fought for years to keep secret, proclaiming it a potential $1 billion business."
3/29/04
  • Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) Technology Open To Approved Lenders (TOTAL)
  • Massachusetts: "The state insurance commissioner, who last summer backed away from proposed regulations allowing insurance companies to use credit scores in setting rates for homeowner's and renter's coverage, indicated yesterday through a spokesman that she has no plans to revisit the controversial issue until a federal study is completed."
  • Missouri, insurance scoring: "It is a practice that is secretive, and there is no justification for it," [Governor] Holden told reporters at a news conference in St. Louis."
  • Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post: "For the first time (because I kept bugging it), Fair Isaac Corp., the company that created the FICO credit-scoring model used by the major credit bureaus, has put together guidelines to further explain how credit card accounts affect your credit score."
  • Bankrate.com: "If their best rates are offered to borrowers with a score of 700 or higher and yours is a 698, those two points could cost you thousands of dollars."
  • WABC, Channel 7, New York: "How quickly can you repair a bad score? FICO, the company that figures your score, says even if you do all the right things generally it can take two to four years." (with video)
  • AllState
    • LA Times: "Allstate Corp. has agreed to pay $3 million to settle state charges that the giant property and casualty insurer used negative credit information as a reason to deny coverage to at least a thousand California car owners."
    • Knight Ridder: "From 2001 to 2003, Allstate used customer credit history to determine premium rates and payment plans, according to Garamendi's office."
3/4/04
  • Love, American-style: "When one partner remains in the dark, it can lead to problems such as poor credit scores for both, which can spill over into job problems... 'Credit scores increasingly are being used by employers in hiring decisions... '’’ (5/5/08 update: Credit bureaus do not include scores in pre-employment screening reports.)
  • Providian
    • "Providian Financial Corp., a large San Francisco-based credit card issuer, plans to give all of its customers unlimited views of their credit scores, anytime they choose, at no charge."
    • "'We already buy these scores once a month anyway,' Elias said. 'We have them. Why not share them with our customers?'"
    • A short history
      • The law, today: "Any provision in a contract that prohibits the disclosure of a credit score by a person who makes or arranges loans or a consumer reporting agency is void."
      • Not long ago:
        • "Contract agreements between lenders, credit repositories, and Fair, Isaac reportedly may inhibit credit score disclosures to consumers."
        • "Again, the agreement that we have with Fair, Isaac, is that we are not to release that score."
        • And, the all-time best one-liner:   Comedy   arrow10.gif - 5.4 K   "The terms of the our contract with the credit reporting agencies prevent either of us from disclosing scores without the other's permission."
  • Insurance
    • TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE: "The companies listed below indicated the use of credit information for the purpose of underwriting and/or rating private passenger auto insurance... The companies listed below indicated the use of credit information for the purpose of underwriting and/or rating residential property insurance."
    • Missouri: "Clyde Griffith has never filed a claim against his homeowners insurance... Yet in 2002, his premium tripled from $750 a year to $2,200."
    • Tennessee: "State lawmakers are looking into regulating the use of credit scoring... "
    • Ohio: "But Grange Insurance is citing their lack of a credit history as one of the reasons their homeowners insurance premiums are more than doubling from $286 a year to $596." (great picture)
  • (The bad old days) Bankrate.com: "In fact, lenders were prohibited from telling borrowers their credit score."
  • Freddie Mac:
    • CreditSmart Curricullum, Module 6, Understanding Credit Scoring
    • Cutesy "Know your score" indoctrination pamphlet from the company with the cutesy name, Freddie
    • Lest we forget:
      • "The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight fined Freddie Mac a record $125 million in December for alleged management misconduct and violation of its public trust in its $5 billion misstatement of earnings... The accounting turmoil has brought the ouster of four top executives since early June, and the company is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission."
      • 1999 patronizing paternalism: Ten Myths of Credit Scoring
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