Who is the Washington Post’s source?

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 5:29 AM
To: Donald E. Graham, chairman, Washington Post Company
Cc: Michelle Singletary, columnist, Washington Post; Patrick B. Pexton, ombudsman, Washington Post; Danielle Douglas, reporter, Washington Post; Ylan Q. Mui, reporter, Washington Post; Ylan Q. Mui; Meredith Hooker, managing editor for Internet, The Gazette; Allan Lichtman, professor, Department of History, American University; The Washington Post Company; John Temple, managing editor, Washington Post; Ken Harney
Subject: credit score, employers, Washington Post, 2012-09-25

See this message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=4205, http://blog.creditscoring.com/?tag=trope-even-employers and http://blog.creditscoring.com/?tag=washington-post-company.

You published, “Credit agencies have come under greater scrutiny as consumer advocates question the accuracy of the scores, which affect the ability to get a mortgage, car loan, credit card and sometimes even a job.”

Who is your source regarding credit score use by employers?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Who told you that?

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 2:34 PM
To: K. James Yager, CEO, director, Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC
Cc: Walter D. Bristol, chairman, Consumer Reports, Consumers Union; Amanda Walker, Consumer Reports senior project editor, Consumers Union; Communications, Consumers Union; James A. Guest, president, CEO, consumer Reports, Consumers Union
Subject: Whistle-Stop, Consumers Union, Barrington Broadcasting, Who told you that?

With incredulity, you published: “Your credit score is obviously important if you’re borrowing money. But many employers also look at scores when hiring.”

At the bottom of that story is a link to the “Consumers Union website,” however, the Consumers Union page at the link address does not support your statement; it does not mention employers.

New Yorker Hotel

On a whistle-stop tour this month, I visited Consumer Reports.  The person with that organization I spoke to there wrote:

Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 1:34 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: Follow up to your visit earlier today

Hello Greg,

After your visit, I conferred with Mandy Walker and our experts over at Consumers Union (the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports), and we’ve since updated Mandy’s quote in my blog to more accurately reflect the updated language now found at the website cited.

I just wanted to thank you for bringing this to my attention, and apologize for the communication disconnect that occurred on this end between Consumers Union and Consumer Reports, which meant the update was not made to the blog post sooner.

Again, thanks for your sharp eye and follow through,

(Despite that, still, another Consumers Union document states, inaccurately, “Without a Disaster Information Shield, FICO scoring models could pose an affirmative barrier to the efforts of disaster victims to regain, and maintain, financial stability, access reasonably priced credit, and even regain employment.”)

Your page even contains advertisements while misinforming readers by saying that employers use credit scores.

Who told you that?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


Experian claims employers consider credit scores for hiring

A long time ago, Experian, itself, stated, “Experian’s business policy prevents the inclusion of credit scores with an employment report, at Experian called Employment Insight.”

Today, however, Experian states, “Creditors, landlords, and even some employers consider a person’s credit score before deciding whether they will approve a loan, lease an apartment, or hire an applicant.”

That quotation is from ProtectMyID, a “part of Experian.”

In the United Kingdom, for that kind of monkey business, you are rewarded with knighthood.

And, with that, we have a new countdown.


Credit score expert deems inquiries 5 points issue Myth #1

A credit score expert declares that an idea about credit report inquiries is the number one credit score myth.

The Myth

Tom Quinn, who recently departed from Fair Isaac (who wants to be known as FICO), writes that “Myth #1” pertains to the inquiries made to a consumer (credit) report. The top myth, he claims, is that every inquiry for credit costs 5 points in the score system.

To give the myth mongers some credit, the notion has some foundation, since the scoring company uses the number 5 in its brief official statement. However, the fatal flaw is the incomplete explanation in the paragraph mentioning “5 points.” It says that one additional credit inquiry made for the purpose of applying for credit may have no effect, at all, on a person’s score. Then it says that, for others, one additional inquiry would drop the FICO score less than 5 points (indeed, 4 points or less, in other words).

Words matter

But, that is where this consumer appeasement exercise by (oh, alright, FICO) FICO falls apart. It fails the logic test because it means that for others, still, an additional inquiry may cost 5, or even 6 points. And, in turn, for others beyond that, logically, it could mean that the algorithm drops the score 100 points, or even 400 points. Who knows?

That is probably not the case, but mathematically–based on the word problem–possible. If The Wizard had said, “For all others,” instead of just “For others,” you could make the (4-point, at least) assumption.  It is akin to a trick question.

Here is the ultimate inquiry query in this inquiry:  What is the maximum number of points that an inquiry can cost in the Fico credit score?

As unsatisfying as it is, Quinn’s brief and frank statement answers it: “There is no fixed set number of points that an inquiry will cost.”

Life lessons

While opinions vary on which myth is really #1, the one about 5-points-for-an-inquiry is complicated, and soundbite explanations just don’t cut it. When even The Wizard itself uses the phrase “typically only accounts for five points” (key weasel word: typically) it’s enough to pull your hair out.  Quinn’s explanation says that there is no certain number of deducted points associated with an inquiry, and that, generally, “inquiries have a relatively minor contribution” to the score.  Of course, that is not much to hold onto, either. But, perhaps, that lesson of his elegant brevity (the antithesis of this post) is inherent and based in wisdom and real experience from within the system: saying less is more.  Pundits and journalists love to publish numbers, so if you are in an interview and say “5 points,” you had better be sure that the writers get the nuanced part of the the figure, too. The results of the failure to do so can be disasterous.

Fortunately, we have this great, big (almost) world-wide, collective intertwined web thing that we can use to explain things to each other (and make corrections), Kumbayah.

Or not.

The Expert

So, what evidence does Quinn give to back up what he is saying about inquiries? None, but the guy has expertise few can claim: The score company ex-vice president is fresh from Capitol Hill, having testified on behalf of his former employer as late as last year. He joins another former insider, John Ulzheimer, as a credible expert (as opposed to authors blowhards and anybody with a website) making cogent public statements about FICO credit scores.  It ain’t much, verified, or proven publicly–and we can take it on faith or play the cynic–but it’s the best we’ve got.

On the other hand, even Quinn’s platform with the perfect, enviable name, Credit.com, gets it wrong about credit scores elsewhere on the same website.

Meh.  Whatever.  Myths are everywhere.

credit score, employers, CardRatings.com, NSADAQ, Fox Business, 2011-06-03

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:43 PM
To: Melissa Rudy
Subject: credit score, employers, CardRatings.com, NSADAQ, Fox Business, 2011-06-03

See this message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=2198 and http://blog.creditscoring.com/?tag=trope-do-you-know-your-credit-score.  

You wrote:

Despite how easy it has become to receive copies of credit histories and credit ratings, most people remain ignorant of their FICO scores – and of how they affect the ability to secure a mortgage, open a credit card account, or even, in some cases, land a good job… The basic credit report that can be requested by mail for free shows your credit history and current debt. Although it enables you to catch any inaccuracies that may have been reported by a lender or to spot incidences of identity theft, it won’t include your credit score – the number that lenders, insurance agencies, landlords, cell phone companies, and even employers use to determine whether you are a reliable or risky prospect.

You said it twice.

Who is your source regarding credit score use by employers?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Credit score, job, employer, NBC Washington TV station


REPORTER:  “Jim, if finances have a heartbeat, it’s the credit score. It affects what you pay for mortgages or rent, your auto loan, your insurance, your utility deposits, and even if you’ll get a job.”

From: creditscoring.com
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 2:52 PM
To: Elizabeth Crenshaw (askliz@nbcwashington.com)
Cc: Jeff Zucker, ‘news4pr@nbc.com’; ‘nbc4dc@nbc.com’
Subject: credit score, employers

You said: “If finances have a heartbeat, it’s the credit score. It affects what you pay for mortgages or rent, your auto loan, your insurance, your utility deposits, and even if you’ll get a job.”


Who is your source regarding credit score use by employers?