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Facts About Credit Scores

A credit score is a numerical expression based on a statistical analysis of a person's credit files, to represent the creditworthiness of that person, which is the likelihood that the person will pay his or her debts. A credit score is primarily based on credit report information, typically sourced from credit bureaus / credit reference agencies. Other countries might have similar scores.

Lenders, such as banks and credit card companies, use credit scores to evaluate the potential risk posed by lending money to consumers and to mitigate losses due to bad debt. Lenders use credit scores to determine who qualifies for a loan, at what interest rate, and what credit limits. The use of credit or identity scoring prior to authorizing access or granting credit is an implementation of a trusted system.

Credit scoring is not limited to banks. Other organizations, such as mobile phone companies and government departments employ the same techniques. Credit scoring also has a lot of overlap with data mining, which uses many similar techniques.

Credit Scores in United States of America

In the United States, a credit score is a number based on a statistical analysis of a person's credit files, that represents the creditworthiness of that person, which is the likelihood that the person will pay his or her bills. A credit score is primarily based on credit report information, typically from the three major credit bureaus, namely Experian, Transunion and Equifax.

There are different variants of credit score reporting. FICO is a credit score developed by Fair Isaac & Co scale. It is used by many mortgage lenders that use a risk-based system to determine the possibility that the borrower may default on financial obligations to the mortgage lender.

Each year, an American is entitled to one free credit report from each of the three agencies. The three credit bureaus run, where users can get their free credit report, normally without the credit scores. The credit scores are available as an add-on feature of the report for a fee.

Credit Scores in Canada

The system of credit reports and scores in Canada is very similar to that in the United States, with two of the same credit reporting agencies active in the country (Equifax and TransUnion). There are, however, some key differences. One such difference is that, unlike the United States, where a consumer is allowed only one free copy of his or her own credit report each year, in Canada the consumer may order a free copy of his or her own credit report any number of times in a year, as long as the request is made in writing, and that the consumer asks for a printed copy to be delivered by mail. This request by the consumer is noted in the credit report but has no effect on his or her credit score.

The Government of Canada offers a free publication called Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score[1]. This publication provides sample credit report and credit score documents with explanations of the notations and codes that are used. It also contains general information on how to build or improve credit history, and how to check for signs that identity theft has occurred. The publication is available online at, the site of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Paper copies can also be ordered at no charge for residents of Canada.

Credit Scores in United Kingdom

In the U.K. there is much academic research into credit scoring. Experts from banks, academia and government agencies gather bi-annually at the "Credit Scoring & Credit Control" conference in Edinburgh.

The most popular statistical technique used is logistic regression to predict a binary outcome such as bad debt or no bad debt. Some banks also build regression models that predict the amount of bad debt a customer may incur. Typically this is much harder to predict and most banks focus only on the binary outcome.

Credit scoring is closely regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

It is very difficult for a consumer to know in advance if he or she will have a high enough credit score to be accepted for credit with a particular lender. This is due to the complexity and structure of credit scoring which differs from one lender to another.

Also, lenders do not have to reveal their credit scoring methods, nor do they have to reveal the minimum credit score required for the applicant to be accepted. Simply due to this lack of information to the consumer, it is impossible for him or her to know in advance if they will pass a lender's credit scoring requirements.

If the applicant is declined for credit, the lender is also not obliged to reveal the exact reason why.


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