The Trap of Consumer Credit Scores
There are a bunch of credit scores out there that tell a story about each of us to potential lenders and others. There are scores used for renting an apartment, scores for buying an automobile, and of course we know about the scores for getting a mortgage, just to name a few.
All of these scores, that professionals pull, have an applied purpose. These scores are tools for making a specific business decision. Outside of the arena they are designed for, they are essentially useless. There are some that might want to argue that a bit, but put into context, there is little to debate. A score is not useful if it can not be used for an intended purpose. So, though the score we get when our credit is pulled for an auto loan is very useful for qualifying for the auto loan, it is meaningless for trying to qualify for a mortgage.
This happens because the scoring algorithms used for each type of use are different. For example, the scoring for an auto loan will weigh more heavily your past history with an auto loan. That same credit information is looked at differently when applying to rent an apartment, which looks at history relating to rental history more heavily. The same is true when you are applying for a mortgage.
There are also some scoring models designed to include individuals with less conventional credit history, who would otherwise not have a score. These will take into account reported rental history etc that are not reported to the standard system. There are a few such scoring models being used right now in the mortgage environment.
The trap in credit scoring is the "consumer" scores, sometimes referred to as "Fako" scores (as in fake scores), that are offered to the public, are not useful for any of those purposes. Unbeknownst to the common man or woman looking at these scores, you are paying for a score that compares you to other people, but can be and often is vastly different than the scores used to qualify you for a mortgage or auto loan, for example. It is not uncommon for these "consumer" scores to be as much as 100 points different than the FICO scores that their loan officer might pull for a mortgage.
Now you are probably asking your self what anyone would pay for those scores. I ask myself that all the time. The only time I have ever known anyone to be even a little bit interested in their credit scores, is when they are trying to qualify for a loan. There are a few rare people that watch scores closely because scores affect insurance rates and so on, but most people are not nearly that attentive. Heck, I’m a credit expert and help people with their credit for a living, and I don’t focus on my own credit that intently. I take care of the basics and, other than a periodic check to make sure nothing has gone wrong, my credit is pretty much on auto pilot.
So why do those other scores exist, if they can’t be used for any real purpose such as lending? And why do people pay for something that has so little relevance and hence lacks any real value?
Well, I can tell you why they exist. There is an obvious need for people to know their scores, so they can get qualified for a loan. The challenge is that the algorithm that is used for mortgages, FICO, is very closely guarded and expensive for companies to obtain and use. So, if you don’t want to pay for the real thing, you make up your own and sell it.
It is all about making a buck.
Consumers, however, rarely understand that the scores are not relevant when considering lending. You have to really look and pay attention on those various sites to get any idea that they are not going to be helpful for lending. I have worked with thousands of clients, and a high percentage of them were confused and frustrated by consumer scores, when they went to their loan officer to get a mortgage.
I have not taken the time to evaluate all the services out there, and do not plan to do so. But I can tell you a few that we encounter on a regular basis that do not give you FICO scores for your money. Credit Karma is one we hear of often. I have not had a single client that used that service that received FICO scores. If you use them to monitor your credit, check to see what scores they provide and remember that the scores may be light years from where your FICO score your lender will pull are. Another example is the the scores that you get directly from the three credit bureaus Experian, Transunion and Equifax. Most of the time, the scores being offered by them are not FICO scores. What is interesting, is that you can get FICO scores from them in some cases. You just have to dig for the right product. I know that Experian offers one particular product called Credit Check Total that provides FICO scores.
What I hope to make clear here, is that all scores are not the same, even when being pulled for legitimate lending purposes. Don’t be surprised if the scores you got when buying a car are different from the ones pulled for a mortgage. More importantly, I want you to remember that the majority of scores you will get from monitoring services will not be worth anything, if you are looking because you are planning to get lending. Don’t waste your money.
I hope you found this little tidbit helpful and I welcome comments and questions.
If you are facing credit challenges, or you have a client that you are going to have to turn away due to credit challenges, then I encourage you to give me a call. We can look at how Heartland Credit Restoration might be able to help you turn things around and get that credit loan ready. There isn’t a better company you can go to for help. I will look forward to talking to you and I hope you have a wonderfully blessed day!