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New FICO Scores Could Mean More Credit for Millions

April 1, 2015
Credit Cards
New FICO Scores Could Mean More Credit for Millions
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Millions of people who can’t get loans, mortgages or even credit cards may be in luck. Fair Isaac Corp., or FICO, creator of the most widely used set of credit scores, is reportedly reworking its system with an eye toward people who are currently judged too risky for creditors.

The new FICO score system could be announced as early as this week, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Fair Isaac Corp. told the paper it hopes to make as many as 53 million people who don’t have credit scores more attractive to lenders.

The new system will use alternate measurements, including a person’s payment history with cable bills, cellphone bills and utility bills. It will also look at how often they change addresses.

Usually, people who don’t have credit scores either don’t use credit intentionally or can’t get it because of a negative event in their past, like a bankruptcy or foreclosure.

According to the Journal, the new score largely is a response to banks, which want to boost their lending by increasing the number of people who qualify for loans. People with low or nonexistent credit scores usually pay more for their loans than people with better scores. They are also considered greater risks to default on their lines of credit.

FICO and a group of 10 credit card companies have been quietly testing the new system since November, according to the Journal report. FICO plans to roll it out nationwide by the end of the year.

About 15 million people without traditional credit scores already can be scored using the new system, Jim Wehmann, executive vice president of scores at FICO, told the paper.

Doug Gross is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow him on Twitter @doug_gross and on Google+.

Image via iStock.