NEW YORK (MainStreet) Your credit score has likely just changed and whether it went up or down is not necessarily the result of something you did, but rather a change in the scoring methodology used by FICO, the leading credit rating company in North America. The upgrade, known as FICO Score 9, is the first update in six years and the company says that while the data is just being released to consumers, "the majority of FICO scores being pulled by lenders are [already being] generated based on this upgraded version."
The credit score analytics are used to assist lending decisions for credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and personal loans fully 90% of all consumer lending decisions, according to the company. FICO scores range from 300 to 850; the higher the score the lower the risk of loan default to lenders.
"The major changes in the lending environment over the last few years demanded that we take a different approach to building a score that will continue to perform consistently well in various situations," said James Wehmann, executive vice president of scores at FICO, in a statement announcing the upgrade in March. The revised scores are being rolled out to consumers this month.
The company says that most consumers are likely to see a change to their score, reflecting the new risk predicting model. Whether the score goes up or down will vary on a customer's credit circumstances. FICO says its research indicates that nearly half of U.S. consumers will have updated credit scores that are relatively close to the scores generated from the previous version of the formula. The company admits that greater score changes can occur, reflecting the fact that the new scoring method is doing a "better job of identifying those people who are lower credit risks from those who are higher credit risks."
Credit score fanatics on the FICO community forum where some users even list their personal credit score in their post signature are abuzz with the change, with most noting an increase to their score.
Consumers may see even more changes to their perceived credit worthiness in the coming months. The score methodology change is just the first in a series of updated FICO scores being introduced, some of which will be industry-specific credit score upgrades, including risk analysis for auto loans, mortgages and credit cards.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet