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Archive for Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Credit system in need of repair

Three bureaus need to focus on accuracy

March 21, 2006

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By now you might have heard that the three major credit bureaus have introduced a new scoring system they hope will someday replace the current FICO credit score.

Equifax, Experian and

TransUnion recently unveiled what they are calling the "VantageScore," a system that reportedly will simplify credit-risk scoring that helps determine what interest rate consumers will pay.

"We wanted to take away a certain degree of variability," said David Rubinger, a spokesman for Equifax.

That claim sounds reasonable except there's just one huge problem: The scores under the new system still could cause a Grand Canyon-like spread.

Credit scores are generated using information in your credit files. Each file can have all the same information or vastly different data. One creditor may not report all your information to all three bureaus. Or one of your files might be missing the maximum limit on your credit card, making it appear that you are overextended.

Rather than creating a new credit scoring system, the bureaus should focus on fixing a problem that troubles many consumer advocates.

If any of your credit reports has incorrect information, is missing critical information or if some data isn't even being reported, this can reduce your score no matter what the scoring formula.

The credit bureaus and the government should make sure the data being reported to the bureaus is as accurate as it could be. Right now there is no large-scale, independent auditing to determine how accurate credit reports are.

"There is no need for a new system," said Richard LeFebvre, president of AAA Credit, who has worked in the credit reporting industry for 15 years. "There are four variations just within the mortgage arena alone, with different models, varied depending on the creditor. Your model is only as good as the underlying data."

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