Daily slog o’ da blog: What credit score are you talking about?

Da nooz of da day

A wild ride down a rabbit hole in New Jersey, the expert meets the dean of dating disasters and that (you know what).


nj.com (aka the Star-Ledger) publishes a letter from a reader, one “Harry in Basking Ridge,” who says he has a credit score that would be outrageously high on one score’s scale.  He got it by applying for a credit card (an important point).  But, he wants to know, essentially, why certain things “adversely” affect his score, and why the system could see his credit file as negative.

Here’s the thing: In theory, all credit scores are all negative, unless perfect. And, they all come with reasons that the score is not higher. The only other non-negative possibility is Dave Ramsey‘s oft-repeated misinformation piece: No score due to lack of, or insufficient, credit history (just not enough data to go on to even calculate a score).

Reporters will be reporters, so the scribe with the by-line plows right in without getting clarification.  Along for the ride is another willing quotable person as the newspaper reporter gives a wild explanation considering a multitude of fun facts, possibilities and speculations–about FICO scores, another score brand, a home equity line of credit, a personal line of credit, dubious advice about the proportion of balances to credit limits on revolving accounts and even mistaken identity.

Then, it goes off the rails with a comment about “default issues.”

Harry, that’s probably insulting, so a let’s talk.

While we’re waiting for him to make contact, consider a deeper implication of his scenario. Recent credit score disclosures, required by law, leave much to the imagination. One might say “Scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850,” but what credit score it refers to is anybody’s guess.

Some disclosures say, “Your credit score ranks higher than [x] percent of U.S. consumers.”  What the reader’s disclosure said in that regard is a mystery.

But, in a very peculiar case, another publication by the same company touched on the issue without even knowing it. If only

Dating (again)

Out of the disclosure rabbit hole (for now), we bravely head into the Fox hole known as dating. The newspaper named the New York Times made it all the rage this year with a lovely little Christmas day tale, but unfortunately for the Times, the facts (and errors by the Times presented as facts) are unraveling.

Now, Experian (whose hanger-on-to the Queen chairman, himself, is a story) jumps in with its freecreditscore.com band brand and a survey (catnip for journalists; see LSU, below).

But who wouldn’t want to see the ever-ebullient Dean of Dating, chuckling Chucky-Chuck Woolery, again?! He’s the expert on love, and John Ulzheimer is the expert on credit scores. Take a look, and come back in 2 and 2.

Of all the Chucks, this guy is, well, one of them (because the best still rocks (‘n rolls)).

The takeaway for industry: Conduct a survey and get press, but be careful what you wish for.

The takeaway for citizens–consumers of news/infotainment: Don’t believe a thing that freecreditscore.com (Experian) says, despite their funny lip-synching, loveable loser band commercials.

Fox in the FOX house

“A poor credit score can haunt you throughout adulthood, affecting your ability  to rent an apartment, finance a car, buy a home or even land your dream job.” – some guy, yesterday, published on a Fox Television Stations website

So, here we are.  After 5 years, we still get a bald-faced and unsupported false statement like that. It is horrible. Notice the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t change regarding a Louisiana State University study on a Rupert Murdoch website, the honorable correction by another party and the myth of the decade, still, on government websites.

LA Times’ uncorrected errors and bad reporting

Here is a trail of woe; a massive mess of misidentification and misinformation by mainstream media muckety-mucks.

Following a complaint about several errors to the managing editor of the Deseret News, the newspaper with the second-highest gain in audience in the country, made one correction.

But the other four errors remain.  One, a syndicated error by the New York Times, appears in another Times story, as well.

Another of the Deseret News errors originated with the Los Angeles Times.  The false American history is even uncorrected on the LA newspaper’s website.  Some guy at da Times named McManus writes, “Who’s the hero? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for opposing a proposed constitutional amendment to allow limits on campaign spending — and potentially put the American Future Fund out of business.”

The Republican party is not the majority party, so Senator McConnell is not Majority Leader.  In fact, he has never been the majority leader.

Linking (unbelieveably) to Wikipedia, Johanna Neuman writes, “’Tackling fraud and abuse is one of the issues that can and should form the basis of a bipartisan, step-by-step approach to healthcare reform,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday, ‘not as a hook to drag this monstrous bill over the finish line.'”

Seriously: Wiki. Flipping. Pedia.

Another doozy, by ace scribe and Letters to the Editor editor Paul Thornton:  “They have vilified the president ever since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to make Barack Obama a one-termer.”

As if the senator has the power to set the agenda.

Rookie Kim Geiger writes, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) excused himself early, and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) waved the issue away after reporters trailed him in pursuit of a response.”

In April, LA Times’ keyboard finger-flapper Robin Abcarian led with, “What is wrong with the New York Post?”

Abcarian has a problem with attribution.  The LA Times and the New York Times have a problem with the Associated Press (and math).

What is “wrong” with the Los Angeles Times?

David Brooks’ political fantasy spreads to Utah


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, November 05, 2012 9:47 PM
To: Thomas S. Monson, president, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (via L. Kirkland); Henry B. Eyring, first counselor, First Presidency, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor, First Presidency, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Christopher M. Lee, EVP and publisher, DeseretNews.com, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Chris Higbee, general manager, DeseretNews.com, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ; Rick Hall, managing editor, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Lois M. Collins, reporter and columnist, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Clark Gilbert, president and CEO, Deseret News Publishing Company and Deseret Digital Media, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Mary McConnell, member, Editorial Advisory Board, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Cc: Blaze Bullock, business reporter, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Sharon S. Cook, senior VP, Marketing & Public Relations, Mountain America Credit Union
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints III

Dated today, another item on one of your websites states, “Your score can also be reviewed by insurance companies, landlords, and even employers.”

What is your correction policy?

Greg Fisher
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 4:13 PM
To: Rick Hall, managing editor, Deseret News, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints IV

Please take this as seriously as its grave implication.

You are out of control, but no more than your industry in general (not that that should console you or make you feel that you can remain complacent).  On 4 separate dates, you published items that called Mitch McConnell the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.  He is not, and has never been.  Correct those preposterous errors today.

On July 15, 2012, you published: “Who’s the hero? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for opposing a proposed constitutional amendment to allow limits on campaign spending — and potentially put the American Future Fund out of business.”

On July 1, 2012, you published, “’We’ve got one last chance here to beat Obamacare, and we can do that in the November election,’ said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling the law the ‘single worst piece of legislation’ passed in modern times.”

On January 24, 2011, you reported

Late last week the Tampa Tribune laid out how Rubio is being courted by two different GOP groups within the U.S. Senate: the Tea Party and a more moderate faction led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken.

(Rubio) was one of four freshman senators chosen by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to go on a trip last week to Afghanistan and Pakistan, a coveted travel slot that helps boost the profile of a new senator.

And, on October 5, 2011, you republished, “If Romney were to be elected, he would probably share power with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House speaker, John Boehner.”

That item—one that you mindlessly regurgitated—was written by an employee of the New York Times, an organization with the same problems with the truth.

Lest we all think that you are stupid as well as incompetent, correct your revisionist American history today.

And, if you’re going to write about credit scores again, read Credit score tips, information and guidelines for journalists/reporters.  Had you done so, you might have avoided this message and its permanency.  I conceived creditscoring.com, the Credit Scoring Site, 15 years ago to inform journalists and legislators, but that was, apparently, for naught.  Today, you report, “The secret numbers are the credit scores used by banks, landlords and employers to determine how much they can trust you to pay back home and car loans, pay rent on time and how responsible you are.”

I had to start another project, Page A2 – Media accuracy, errors and corrections, because your industry cannot get its act together.  Journalism is so out-to-lunch and conniving about its biggest problem, I had no competition when registering that domain.

Who is your source regarding credit scores and/or credit reports and employers?  Or, did you just make it up?

Previously, you stated: “A person’s FICO credit score (the name derives from the software that calculates it, produced by Fair Isaac Company) impacts the cost of financial services, interest rates, auto insurance and more. Prospective employers may look at it.”  Then, after I alerted you to that screw-up a year ago, you changed your story, pretending that your error never existed.  Why didn’t you put the correction on the original page where it might, actually, do some good—and to stand as an example, a caution to your cub reporters to get the story straight?

Although cowardly done, at least you changed it.  But, what you will do for a story whose entire premise is false (indeed, including the headline) will be amusing.  You duped at least one reader, who said: “Excellent article! And I agree with the hot sauce analogy–right on!”

What is your correction policy?  Reply directly to this message with the answer to that question today.

I get the whole first-rough-draft-of-history excuse for sloppy journalism, but your credit score feature story of yesterday is not news.  If you’re going to engage in that kind of writing, then change the name of your publication; perhaps the news search engines won’t give it so much prominence in misinforming the electorate.  This goofy myth of yours has serious consequences.

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

The McConnell Bind

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 2:38 PM
To: Greg Brock, senior editor, Standards, New York Times
Subject: Error: American history, credit scores

Thank you for replying.  See today’s message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=5142 (“The McConnell Bind”).

Recently, I have been looking into media accuracy, errors and corrections and their consequences.  Here are two more errors that exist on your website.

In “Obama Presses Israel to Make ‘Hard Choices,’” dated May 23, 2011, you published, “’The U.S. ought not to be trying to push Israel into a deal that’s not good for Israel,’ the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’”

And, in “Framing the Debate” (February 25, 2010), you state, “Republicans, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, have called on Mr. Obama to discard the plan unveiled on Monday, as well as the bills adopted by the House and Senate late last year, and to start over.”

Of course, Mitch McConnell is not (and has never been) Senate Majority Leader.  Will you make a correction today?

Having received no response about an issue I raised—after your publisher’s office acknowledged my message over two months ago—I am binding your American history errors to those about employers and credit scores and credit score statistical distribution.

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


To: Howard Marks, billionaire

Your website states: “About 25.5% of consumers — or 43.4 million people — had credit scores below 600 in April, according to FICO Inc. Historically, only about 15% of consumers — or 25.5 million — have had scores below that level, FICO said.”

You are mistaken.

A trend illustrated by credit score company Fair Isaac (FICO) indicates this, from 2005 through 2011:

23.6 – 23.3 – 23.8 – 24.1 – 25.1 – 25.5 – 24.7

A June, 2011 report by an organization named Demos cites your article.

What is the name of the person at Fair Isaac who was the source for those statistics?  If you refer to written information, what are the names of those documents, and who provided them?

What is your corrections policy?


Editorial distribution

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 8:33 AM
To: Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher, New York Times
Subject: credit score, distribution, New York Times

See this message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=4723.

In an editorial, you published, “But the proportion of people with poor ratings — credit scores under 600 — has grown from about 15 percent in the years before the recession to about 25 percent in 2011.”

According to Fair Isaac, in its FICO 8 credit score model, from 2005 to 2011, the percentage of those under 600 [alternate link, added 2014-02-13] was never lower than 23.

What is the name of the person who wrote that editorial?

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

Aaron, are you up to the task?

This is a big mess.

In the ridiculous, ubiquitous, growing, and out-of-control worldwide discussion about credit scores, some know what they are talking about, and some don’t.

And some should.  Employers are not permitted to check credit scores.  At least that’s what it says (verbatim) on Credit.com.

Well, eventually that’s what it said.

However, recently, riffing on a silly (and inaccurate) story in a fabulously New Yorky newspaper, the actual chairman and co-founder of Credit.com appeared on something called the Daily Ticker.  The Ticker is a video thing, and has a studio and everything (here’s your 15 minutes of fame, Yahoo!)!  The rambling host said, “So we know it can affect whether or not you can get a loan–clearly, your credit score–or, even, to get a job–now, possibly, whether or not you can get a date or a second date maybe–more importantly–or a partner, for that matter.”


That disjointed blather starts at 50 seconds into the video.  In response, the interviewee was silent regarding the interviewer’s inaccurate setup.  The guest didn’t bother to set the confused host straight.

Guilt by association?  Abso-flippin-lutely.  And lest you think that this is unfair to the guest–the guy from Credit.com–here are his words (verbatim) in a piece preceding the video screed on Yahoo!:

Apparently, the new normal involves both sides of the dating equation coughing up credit score information heretofore considered sacrosanct except in economic transactions. It’s no longer about getting a job, buying a house, car, cell phone or insurance, nor is it about renting an apartment, or anything else — and it’s not personal. Wait, I guess it is… According to several interviews conducted by the Times, if you don’t have the right score, you may well be shown the door.

Credit scores, relatively speaking, have not been around very long.  The FICO score was first seen in 1989, but consumers were not given direct access until 2001.  Bank accounts, however, have been around a few decades longer, but there doesn’t seem to be any trend for swapping bank statements on dates.

What’s more important: Your qualifications to take on more debt or how much money you have?

But, stop the virtual press!  Not only is the interviewer the host of that little video show, he is the actual editor-in-chief of Yahoo! Finance! (!)  Hokey smokes!  Now we’re getting somewhere! (!)  If he can’t make a correction, who can?

If only he–He, as He sits atop of the great Mount Yahoo!–gets the word, we can start to make some progress.  The efficacy of a social media message is in question.  But–hold on.  Hold on a cotton-pickin’ New York Times minute.  Maybe there is something better.  Yahoo (!) is using (!) an ancient, long-forgotten medium of communication (!) called “email” (!).  At the bottom of the story, it says: “We’d love to hear from you! Send us an email [!] at thedailyticker@yahoo.com.”

Yes, please send them email.  They’d just love it.  And social media messaging doesn’t work.

Terrible, terrible, terrible!  What’s the world coming to?  “Twitter.”  “Yahoo!”  “Times.”  With names like that, how seriously can you take this grand discussion?  But, hang on.  Just.  Another. Dad-blasted minute.  Dude.  This is different.  Think about it in terms of top-level domains.  Credit.com owns the word credit.

If, by the time you read this, the video disappears, don’t worry.  That delicious piece of nonsense has earned a place in the next employers/credit score video coming to a screen near you.






But, the myth is not their fault.

Groundhog Day, 2012: Wikipedia – Jimbo vs. Cookiehead

Groundhog Day, 2012: Wikipedia” updates the previous year’s entry, Groundhog Day, 2011. 

In an exciting showdown, the guy most associated with Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, has his contribution edited by a Wikipedian named Cookiehead.  Including “Jimbo,” himself, the rogue editor, the New York Times and the Connecticut legislature, 2012 documents the source of inaccurate information and how it is disseminated by a powerful, byzantine organization with a website.


CoreLogic FICO. Whoop-dee-doo.

There’s no hiding now,” warns the New York Times.

Oh, (Big) brother.  It’s another “new” score thingamajig.  Here are some other “new” ones to fear:

2000.  FICO NextGen
2003.  Experian – PLUS
2006.  VantageScore
2007.  FICO 8 (aka FICO 08)

And now, in 2011, the announcement of an exciting, bold, new CoreLogic FICO scoring solution! 


Much ado about A Whole Lotta Nothing

It’s high drama at high noon at American Public Media and the demure New York Times.

JohnUlzheimer.com takes on A.WholeLottaNothing.org later today on APM‘s Marketplace Money.  Pay close attention to another example of the type of report in question, and compare it to the one in part 2.

So, in “What’s hurting your FICO score,” if that is number three in order of impact, then what is number one?

Make some popcorn and listen in.

9/30 update:  http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/09/23/mm-are-credit-scores-fair/