DAYTON, Ohio - The Credit Scoring Site, an internet web address, was named a USA TODAY Hot Site, and appeared in USA TODAY September 23rd, 1998.
"Such an honor is gratifying after putting in so much time on the project-- and, more importantly, it's a chance to bring it to the fore," said Greg Fisher, the site's author. "It started with a simple question: 'what's my credit score?' It turned into a 12-month dogfight with the credit bureaus, and a study of their practices and the law-- consumers have no right to know the scores based on their credit reports. Even in the case of a person with perfect credit, their score could be lowered even because, among other things that may seem innocent, they have too many-- or too few-- credit cards. And, so far there's no answer to the other question: 'what's the right number of cards to have in my wallet?' This isn't just a topic for deadbeats-- increasingly, lenders are using credit scores to determine rates and points."
According to USA TODAY, "Sites are judged strictly on the basis of content and appearance. Absolutely no money is accepted in exchange for an award." The USA TODAY web page featuring the link is www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/chb0917.htm. The site was listed in the newspaper's "TechExtra" section.
The Credit Scoring Site (creditscoring.com) reveals the secret nature of credit scoring, and consists of links to dozens of sources to learn about the practice, used by credit bureaus to distill a person's credit report into one number to facilitate faster, more objective credit granting decisions. The proliferation of web pages offering insight into scoring is an oddity, given that the sources of the scores-- the credit bureaus-- refuse to release their algorithms. Over 12 months of pointed, sometimes heated, correspondence with the bureaus is included in The Credit Scoring Site. The question, asked repeatedly of the entire chain of command of the credit report companies, "what's the right number of credit cards?," remains, with the exception of generalities leading to no conclusion, unanswered. Also included: a section dedicated to Fair, Isaac, the company tasked with creating the scores-- in monopolistic fashion-- for all three national credit reporting agencies.
Previously the Federal Trade Commission required credit bureaus to disclose the scores to individuals, but the latest version of the Fair Credit Reporting Act does not make that requirement. In fact, it states specifically that it does not require it.
Now that the mortgage lending industry has implemented the grading system, the credit bureau scores-- sometimes referred to as "broad-based risk scores", and ranging from about 350 to 900-- are practically universal, used by all types of lenders from credit cards to car loans to million dollar home loans.
Signing his email correspondence as Greg Fisher, "Cadillac owner (1978 Eldo)(Red)" (a title used as a mnemonic device), Fisher contends the new rule bears discussion in a time when information gathering is exploding and the rules of the new information age have yet to be clearly defined. "They've got the goods-- and the bads on you," he argues. "And they're not giving up the one number that has the single most important impact on a creditor's decision to lend money: the credit score. How's a person supposed to know where they stand?"
The nation's three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, refuse to release the scores to consumers. They contend the numbers are their property and are not for sale to the public, and only release them to lenders and others they permit to obtain the information. Experian, a British company, claims knowing the tally will not help a person understand his credit standing because: 1) the score changes, 2) there are many types of scores, and 3) the same score could be used differently by different lenders.
Fisher counters, "Baloney. If I have a 750 credit bureau score today, and when I look in six months, I have a 700, I know I'm doing something wrong. It's that simple. These guys just don't like having the light on them. Not only does releasing the scores make sense, it makes you wonder why they're afraid of it."
Sentiment is turning against the credit bureaus' refusal to release the scores. In June, the California Association of REALTORS® (href="http://www.car.org/legislation/finance/creditscoring.html) reported that they, in conjunction with the National Association of REALTORS®, will seek ways to force disclosure of scores to consumers.
Published stylishly in depressed shades of black and white, The Credit Scoring Site was released to the public September 4th. Says Fisher, "When things look brighter, we'll give it some color, and for a little fun, maybe even a cash award for the person with the highest score and their explanation of how they did it. But for now: monochrome. It's still a gray day."