Tuesday, April 7, 2009

FICO Score Concerns

With the credit drying up and lenders reducing the amount available some of the FICO procedures are causing problems for even the best of consumers. While the full FICO methodology is a proprietary secret, we do know that part of the calculations are based on the amount of credit used as a percent of the consumer's available credit. So when a lender arbitrarily halves your credit card limit a ding will be left on your credit score. And since most of the universe seems to revolve around the FICO score - from auto insurance to potential employment - a couple dings from lenders could create real life problems for many people. Today we find we are not alone in our FICO concerns with this post titled Freedom From FICO over at SavingAdvice.com. Lets take a look -

One of the benefits of a life without debt is (some) freedom from the gods at FICO. Because I don’t do debt, my FICO score is not as important to me as it is to some and that takes a lot of worry out of my life. I see many people freaking out about their FICO scores because they know they will need a loan in the near future.


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And it’s a good thing that I don’t worry about it too much. Just the other day, I got a notice from a credit card that they were lowering my limit. ... More and more credit cards are closing cards and lowering limits and even the debt free are not immune to the madness. My score will no doubt drop a few points in the coming months, and not because of actions I take. But I can live with it.


I know many people who are at their wits end because their scores are dropping through no fault of their own as credit lines are slashed and even eliminated. This practice dings the all important “utilization of debt” ratio that comprises a large part of a credit score. When you have lower credit limits and your outstanding debt creeps closer to the maximum, your score goes down. And it’s happening all over the country right now. Some people, desperate for a car loan or a home equity loan are being denied because their scores have dropped, even though they have done nothing to deserve it. It’s cause for concern if you require debt to get through life.


I don’t agree with FICO’s methods for determining a score and I don’t agree with the way a lot of insurance companies, employers, and others use the score to determine who gets what. It’s a flawed system that takes away the human element and places all the control on a computer algorithm that has no concern for you as a person, your special circumstances, or that the credit card companies jacked you around. But it’s the system that the world uses and, like it or not, they’ve managed to make it so that even those of us who don’t use debt have to concern ourselves with this score.


It does seem pretty scary how one company can have so much influence. And since the algorithms are trade secrets it can be even more worrisome. We hope they have layers and layers of securities in place - even from their own employees. One mad FICO employee doing some random havoc could ruin numerous people's lives. With great power comes great responsibility. Oh, that is not working out so well for our best and our brightest. Let's hope things are better in Minneapolis then on Wall Street.

1 comment:

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