Recently, Fair Isaac (FICO) asked the provocative question, “How does your #FICO Score compare to the rest of the US?”
The accompanying link leads a new homepage at the company’s consumer-oriented website, myFICO.com. It features an interactive map of the United States on which you can see a national average credit score (692) and averages for individual states. The state with the highest average credit score in the country is North Dakota, at 720.
The map below shows the above average states in green, and the below average states in white.
The state-by-state breakdown is a departure for FICO, who has never answered the same type of illustration published years ago by national consumer reporting agency and competitor Experian. Unfortunately the basis for the Experian map was the infamous Fake-O score, the PLUS score. But despite that, let’s face it: It was, frankly, full of Fake-O FICO funky fun. Fair Isaac gets that.
Today, for its part, Experian seems to have moved on to yet another gambit: The highly-touted (media are suckers for anything new), VantageScore. NationalScoreIndex.com (the address that previously hosted the map) now forwards to something called Live Credit Smart (click on “The State of Credit” on the left menu). The interactive PLUS score map (similar to FICO’s) that was on the homepage at NationalScoreIndex.com is now at http://www.nationalscoreindex.com/USScore.aspx (if you care).
Confused about which score is relevant? You should be. In 2008, FICO told creditscoring.com that the TransUnion version sold on myFICO.com is FICO Risk Score, Classic 98 which is not the model mentioned in the Fannie Mae lending guidelines (section B3-5.1-01 (p. 427, pdf p. 455)). On the other hand, the Equifax score at myFICO is, indeed, the same score mentioned by Fannie. But, the one thing that the score used for mortgage lending or even the myFICO.com score is not is something called “FICO 8.” Fair Isaac states, “When a significant number of lenders have upgraded, we will work with the credit reporting agencies to provide FICO 8 scores to consumers here on myFICO.”
Yet, FICO 8 is the score model in countless blog posts by FICO personnel as if it is significant. They have not mentioned the shiny new map. Yesterday’s commentary about the distribution of consumers by score doesn’t even bring it up.
It is anybody’s guess which score model is represented in the US state map. And it used to be all about the median not the mean (“average”). And there is a new AOR (with the typical, cliché wordplay right in the press release title). And a new CEO, a board member. And no coming to terms with the employers thing even as the rest of the world is enlightened (albeit with, in one case, a strange, contradictory result). Still, some keep the myth going.
Tonight, will she use the same talking point, set the record straight, or neither? Here are examples of the millionaire’s tour schtick. Hosted by Allowed to bleat on unquestioned for almost four minutes by the media queen, herself, the expert bloviates, “Now, employers will not hire you unless you have a credit report and a good FICO score” (1:24). Orman gets a pass from the interviewer, Arianna Huffington.
In the article associated with the video, the Huffington Post, itself, says the same thing: “It can also affect their ability to rent an apartment and get a job, as many employers now check credit scores as part of the hiring process.”
Where are all the tough questions? They just wind her up, and let her go. Interviewed by an actual namesake–the publisher of ForbesWoman–an oddly agitated, seething Orman said, “And because they have a FICO score, a landlord will rent to them, an employer will hire them, their car insurance will be lower (especially if it’s a good FICO score)” (5:11).
Discussing her legacy (“I’m closer to 61, now, than I am 60.”), the prolific author proclaims to all the people, “I want to create a new scoring system. I hope they call it the S.O. Score” (5:46).
And then (speaking of promoting oneself) there’s the SELF thing, itself. It is easy to see why Orman would gush, “I love SELF Magazine.” The Condé Nast publication edited out the part about employers and scores. But they left in the bit about “Suze Orman, the smartest woman about money in perhaps the world.”
The current Wikipedia article “Credit score” states, “In the United States, FICO risk scores range from 300-850, with 723 being the median FICO score of Americans in 2010.”
“In 2010,” was added on March 9, 2011 by Wikipedia user Primeonetx, part of his or her sole, albeit inaccurate and influential, contribution to the world’s knowledge, made in a drive-by.
That is an inaccurate statement, since credit score company FICO admits that the national media and mean average FICO credit scores are secret. So, the Wikipedians (rhymes with comedians) could not know the median score at all, let alone what its level was only in 2010.
Radical Mallard added the business about 723 exactly one year ago today, and included misinformation about the FICO score scale and range in the same sentence. Somebody changed the statement about the low end of the scale (from 350 to 300) on May 29, but even that is questionable (see Valentines Day).