Good Morning America says credit score key to job

Last week on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” host George Stephanopoulos introduced a segment by saying, “You know, your credit score is the key to getting a credit card, a mortgage– even a good job.”  The accompanying web page says, “Credit scores can affect many aspects of your life, your ability to get a credit card, a mortgage and even a job.”

The interviewee, Mellody Hobson (who ABC calls an expert and Guru), did not disagree.  Previously, Hobson said that the average credit score is 676 when the median FICO score was known to be 723 (click on “yuk it up“).

Meanwhile, the consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores (wacky video) for employment, an actual verifiable fact that ABC failed to report.

Laura Zaccaro, whose name appears as the co-author of the web page said that her sources include Tory Johnson and FICO.  In 2008 FICO referred to “anecdotal information gleaned from public sources such as published articles.”

Last month, the Federal Reserve told Congress that employers use credit scores.

Enough to be Dangerous: U.S. Bank and PrivacyGuard

To: Steve Dale, senior vice president, Media Relations, U.S. Bank
From: Greg Fisher
Date: April 29, 2010
Subject: Fake-O FICO Funk, U.S. Bank

You state, “Get your credit report and FICO score online now, plus have your report monitored for signs of identity theft.”

However, the credit score that I received by using your link was not a FICO score.

What are you doing to correct your sales pitch? What about refunds?

See Enough to be Dangerous.

Greg Fisher
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio 45409-0342

Credit dude on hiring and credit scores, Des Moines Register

To:  Matt
From:  Greg Fisher, creditscoring.com
Date:  April 29, 2010
Subject:  credit score, employers, Des Moines Register

You said: “Know your credit score. Many employers today take your credit score into consideration when determining if you are the right person for the job.”  However, the consumer reporting agencies do not provide credit scores for employment screening.

You are at the top of the news searches this morning.  The story about people saying employers use credit scores is getting boring.  But, identifying who provided that information:  Now that’s interesting.

Who is your source regarding credit score use by employers?

Request for Federal Reserve’s evidence regarding employers using credit scores

From:  Greg Fisher
To:  Sandra F. Braunstein, Federal Reserve
Subject:  credit score, employers, Federal Reserve, 2010-03-24
cc:  Michelle A. Smith, Federal Reserve; ConsumerHelp@FederalReserve.gov; Pierce Nelson, Sibyl Slade, Jean Tate, Federal Reserve, Atlanta; Federal Trade Commission Office of Public Affairs; Gerri Willis, CNN; realstories@cnnmoney.com; letters@smartmoney.com; Aleksandra Todorova, Stephanie Auwerter, SmartMoney; Elizabeth Warren; freshair@whyy.org; talkback@whyy.org; frontline@pbs.org; Gosia Wozniacka, The Oregonian; Jennifer Openshaw; PublicAffairs@dobi.state.nj.us; consumerfinance@dobi.state.nj.us; John Peace, Don Robert, Susan Henson, Susan Thomas, Media Relations, Corporate Responsibility, Experian; press.office@uk.experian.com; worldservice@bbc.co.uk; editor@mediaguardian.co.uk; haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk; gazette@independent.co.uk; online.editor@timesonline.co.uk; news@timesonline.co.uk; business@timesonline.co.uk; Barry Paperno, Craig Watts, FICO
Sent:  4/19/2010

See http://www.creditscoring.com/influence/government/federalreserve/employers2009atlanta.html and http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=1154.

Last month, you stated to congress:  “Credit scoring is widely used to evaluate applications for credit, identify prospective borrowers, and manage and price new and existing credit accounts. It is also used to facilitate decisionmaking in other areas including insurance, housing, and employment.”

However, consumer reporting agencies who compile and maintain files on consumers on a nationwide basis state that they do not use credit scores for employment purposes.

What evidence suggests that employers use credit scores? 

How many employers use credit scores? 

Do you have the identity of one employer who uses credit scores?

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
greg@creditscoring.com
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio   45409-0342
937-681-3224

mint.com and Experian – strange bedfellows

See if you can follow this.

The players

The Consumerist, a former property of notorious Gawker Media, is now owned by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.  The move is nearly inexplicable, but, apparently, CU thinks that that is how to get young and hip.  But there is a firewall.  A new entity, Consumer Media LLC, houses The Consumerist.  The domain was registered by Consumers Union in December, 2008.  Requests for the home page of http://consumermediallc.org/ are redirected to consumerist.com.

Mint.com is owned by Intuit, the publisher of Quicken personal finance software.  Mint/Quicken is a Believer, saying, viral video-style:

These days, credit scores are not only used by lenders but by everyone from landlords to prospective employers.  A bad score can keep you from getting an apartment, a mobile phone or even a job. – Quicken, March 4, 2010

Now before you get sucked in by that bit about employers, see this video for another perspective.

Other minty-fresh advice includes: 

Make a large purchase using your credit card and pay it off immediately. This impressive payment behavior will earn you good marks. – Mint.com

The only guy likely to be impressed is the one you buy the big-screen TV from .  A history of a large balance is not part of the FICO score scheme.  And the only way to create a credit card history is to let a balance ride long enough to have a record.  Further, as everybody knows by now, high balances compared to limits kill.  But do enjoy your fabulous vacation.

Now, back to the story

Last week, the Consumerist gushed, “Mint.com has an exhaustive article about perfecting your credit to achieve the highest possible ‘elite’ score: anything over 800.”

Exhaustive?  Hardly.  More like exhausting.

According to Mint, the article (“Can You Increase Your Credit Score to 850”) is provided by Experian.com.

Experian.com in that sentence actually links to the disgraced FreeCreditReport.com owned by Experian. The national consumer reporting agency’s Web site was even parodied by its own regulator, the Federal Trade Commission. In the ultimate irony, the FreeCreditReport.com’s home page has to ask the question a consumer might wonder about a site with such a name: “Why isn’t my Credit Report free?” Oft-quoted credit report expert John Ulzheimer calls a recent FTC action the Experian Rule.

Mint.com addresses the concerns of its members:

We link to services provided by two of the largest credit bureaus (FreeCreditReport.com by Experian and TrueCredit by TransUnion) because banks and financial institutions check your credit profile with these bureaus. The services give you access to your credit score, credit report, and credit monitoring alerts.

Fake-O FICO Funk

However, the credit score at Experians’s FreeCreditReport.com is not sold to lenders. That score, the PLUS, is a Fake-O (a term acquired by a member of Congress in a hearing  last month).

Lots of people in social media dig the 850 score Mint article.  In its first paragraph, it mentions a consumer who thinks he is “a financial unicorn,” and explains that only 5.7% of Americans achieve an 800 (according to Credit Karma). The next paragraph refers to the consumer’s FICO score. However, FICO states that roughly one in 8 have a score of 800 or more.  Further, myFICO.com illustrates the 800 club with the figure 13%, not 5.7.

And then, there’s this in the Mint piece:  “Since debt utilization makes up 30 percent of your credit score – the second biggest factor after timely payments – carrying a balance can keep you out of the credit-elite category.”

So, here’s the big question:  If debt utilization is 30%, then what percentage is “Number of accounts with balances“?  And, what percentage is the “Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases”?

Finally, Mint.com suggests, “In general, the rules to join the credit elite are simple: make timely payments, keep your credit utilization up to about 25 to 35 percent of your available credit, and minimize credit inquiries.”  But, FICO disagrees. Su–ze — Or–man, whose face you can see– right– on– myFICO.com, writes, “The FICO brain trust says there is no specific number that qualifies as a ‘good’ ratio, just that lower is always better.” And, FICO spokesman Barry Paperno said, flat out, “The lower that utilization number is, the better it is for your score.” The scrap heap of comments in that regard just got a little bigger.

Impossible

But, by far, the worst thing about the Mint credit score article is that its “provider,” Experian, can’t even come to an arrangement with FICO to allow consumers to see their FICO score like the other two national consumer reporting agencies.  And the scale of the PLUS score, the score to which the article links through FreeCreditReport.com, ends at 830, not 850 as in the title. In other words, you could do everything right– make all your payments on time, pay down your credit cards, have the optimum number of accounts– and pay the admission to check your score regularly and religiously for years.  But you would never get to 850 because that number doesn’t exist in the PLUS score range.

If the notion behind Consumers Union is buyer beware, reader beware of Consumers Union.  One thing is for sure:  Whenever Experian or Consumers Union is involved, nonsense is sure to follow.

Legislation uses FICO, not Fake-O, score as benchmark

H. R. 600, the FHA Seller-Financed Downpayment Reform Act of 2009, introduced by “Mr. AL GREEN of Texas (for himself, Ms. WATERS, and Mr. GARY G. MILLER of California)” uses the term “FICO score” 5 times.  It is a bill “To revise the requirements for seller-financed downpayments for mortgages for single-family housing insured by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under title II of the National Housing Act.”  

In March, 2010, Representative Green said, “Thank you very much, and thank for that new term for my vocabulary: Fake-O.” (2:13:58 in the video)