History of Credit Scores
Credit scores became widely used in the 1980's. Long before credit scores, human judgment was the sole factor in deciding who received credit. Lenders used their past experience at observing consumer credit behavior as the basis for judging new consumers. Not only was this a slow process, but it was also unreliable because of human error. Lenders eventually began to standardize how they made credit decisions by using a point system that scored the different variables on a consumer's credit report. This point system helped to eliminate much of the bias that previously existed; however, it was still tied to intuitive measures of credit worthiness and was not based on actual consumer behavior. Credit granting took a huge leap forward when statistical models were built that considered numerous variables and combinations of variables. These models were built using payment information from thousands of actual consumers, which made scores highly effective in predicting consumer credit behavior. When combined with computer applications, scoring models have made the credit granting process extremely fast, efficient and objective, facilitating commerce and helping consumers quickly get the credit they need.
The Credit Modeling Process
Designers of credit scoring models review a set of consumers - often over a million - who opened loans at the same time, and determine who paid their loan and who did not. The credit profiles of the consumers who defaulted on the loans are examined to identify common variables they exhibited at the time they applied for the loan. The designers then build statistical models that assign weights to each variable, and these variables are combined to create a credit score. Models for specific types of loans, such as auto or home, more closely consider consumer payment statistics related to these loans. Model builders strive to identify the best set of variables from a consumer's past credit history that most effectively predict future credit behavior.
In determining credit scores, lenders place you in a risk category that compares you to a large number of consumers with similar credit histories. This allows lenders to compare "apples to apples," ensuring that your credit behavior is judged in a context that is relevant and fair. For example, consumers with brief credit histories and only a few accounts are not compared to consumers with long-established credit histories. Rather, these consumers will be compared to other consumers who also have brief credit histories. Keep in mind that the attributes of your risk category (i.e. number of accounts, total debt, etc.) may not have the same impact to a credit score for consumers in another risk category.
What are Score Factors?
Score factors are the elements from your credit report that drive your credit score. For example, such elements as your total debt, types of accounts, number of late payments and age of accounts are what determine the outcome of your credit score. Score factors can have a positive or negative affect on your credit score. Lenders must provide consumers with the most significant score factors when they are declined credit. With a subscription to ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company, ("ConsumerInfo") Triple AdvantageSM, our online credit management service, you can view the negative and positive score factors that drive your PLUS score. In addition, freecreditscore.com, an Experian company, provides score factor advice on how to improve or maintain your credit.