Further investigation into the efficacy of a social media message
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 7:37 AM To: Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO, News Corporation (via Julie Henderson) Cc: Andrew Housser, co-founder & CEO, Bills.com; Michael Lewis, VP/general manager, KTBC FOX 7, Austin, News Corporation; Danielle Douglas, reporter, Washington Post Subject: credit score, employers, KTBC-TV, Austin, Fox Television Stations, Inc., News Corporation
An open letter to Rupert Murdoch
Dear Mr. Murdoch:
You published, “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.”
This thing is not a dream; it is a 5-yearnightmare. As I already told you, employers do not use credit scores. The myth [is] now out of control and has begun having serious consequences. Send a memo about this to all points of your empire, now.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Hey kids! One positive outcome of this ridiculousness, is identifying, perhaps, what very-well could be the perfect responsive web design page! Watch what happens when you squish your browser window (which is, apparently, the ultimate test of this fabulous, fundamental new standard)! Try it!
Apart from what you actually owe, it especially helps to have unused credit available. “Credit utilization“—how much of your credit you actually use—accounts for 30% of the credit-score calculation. While the rule of thumb is to keep your credit use to no more than a third of your available credit, FICO high achievers use, on average, a skimpy 7% of the credit available to them.
However, according to Fair Isaac, 30% is a number referring to the importance of a category in calculating a FICO score called “Amounts Owed,” not “Credit utilization.” And, Amounts owed is driven by half a dozen factors, not just utilization. Fair Isaac explains that one of the items in the category is, indeed, “How much of the total credit line is being used and other ‘revolving’ credit accounts,” but it is only one of 6 items in that segment, and, in fact, is listed fifth.
One of the other items (one that you failed to mention) is “The amount owed on different types of accounts.” That introduces the idea of scoring based on specific types of loans—credit cards and installment accounts, for example. Another is, merely, “How many accounts have balances,” which has nothing to do with how much credit is actually used.
In 2009, a Fair Isaac spokesman told me: “When my company explains FICO scoring to a general audience, we apply general weights to major data categories such as, ‘Amounts Owed is 30 percent of a typical consumer’s score.’ We don’t break that weighting into finer parts for individual factors, both to avoid unintentionally misleading the public and to protect the model’s proprietary information. “
But if all of that is not overt enough for you, try this. Using the same words (apparently finally giving in, using the same, popular, over-simplifying street term) you use, Fair Isaac mentions this about the 30% category: “Credit utilization, one of the factors evaluated in this category, considers the amount you owe compared to how much credit you have available.”
So, now we finally know—in words straight from the horse’s mouth—that “Credit utilization” (despite wacky Wikipedia‘s inaccurate information) does not account for 30 percent of the score calculation; it is only one of the factors in the 30% category (and we have only a vague idea of its weight). What is not clear about that? You used quotation marks around the term credit utilization. Who are you quoting?
And, whose rule of thumb is it to use no more than a third of available credit? Is there some plateau at 33 percent? Are there only diminishing returns below that?
From: Greg Fisher Sent: Friday, September 28, 2012 2:27 PM To: Barbara Marquand, staff writer, QuinStreet Cc: Doug Valenti, chairman, QuinStreet Subject: Experian, Fox Business, Quinstreet, VantageScore; employers
Experian linked to an article on the Fox Business website in which you wrote, “VantageScores range from 501 to 990, and the breakdown of excellent to bad credit is similar to the scale used to calculate grades in school — 900 to 990 is excellent; 800 to 899 is good; 700 to 799 is fair; 600 to 699 is poor; and under 600 is failing.”
Who designated that tier as failing? And, at what are those in that tier failing?
Also, you wrote, “Even employers sometimes check credit scores to gauge applicants’ sense of personal responsibility.”
What indicates that employers use credit scores?
The Credit Scoring Site creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio 45409-0342
So, the problem is this: Mass media have repeated this myth so long and so loud that it will never go away. In statehouses, there has even been legislation passed and signed into law by the snookered to outlaw the notion behind the myth– even though the notion is not true. Meanwhile, even as it tries to own up to its errors, the (mis)information machine just keeps on churning, out of control.
The myth is that employers use c—-t s—-s (you almost even don’t want to say the words for fear of fueling the fire).
Employers do not do it. They can’t. They cannot. They can’t even GET c—-t s—-s.
Take the case of Rupert Murdoch, a man who, certainly, has taken his lumps, recently. British legislators even went as far as to declare him “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” And, as you can see here, when it comes to the issue about s—-s, he can’t get it right. Its like he’s arguing with himself.
For example, first, one of Murdoch’s anchors–who (NSFW) is a lawyer–does does a whole bit with some guy with the title of Doctor. For some real fun, see Murdoch’s copy change after creditscoring.com’s email: the word s—-s changed to reports (but not before at least one sucker copied it (why the myth will not die)). Got the picture? A doctor and a lawyer (indeed, she reminds us of that right in the video).
Then, just days later, a host on another Murdoch network has credit report and c—-t s—-e expert John Ulzheimer on her show. These two (mere laymen) know the truth and go over the thing again for the umpteenth time: employers do not use [you know what].
How do you get in touch with this guy Murdoch–or Oprah, or the head of NBC? Or, are they just unreachable, out of touch and unfit?
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:05 PM To: Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, director, National Institutes of Health (via J. Burklow); Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, director, National Institutes of Health (via M. Allen); Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, director, National Institutes of Health (via K. Cravedi) Cc: Dr. Woody; Dr. Woody (via Tom Estley); Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO, News Corporation (via Julie Henderson); Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation; Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation (alt I); Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation (alt II); Irena Briganti, group SVP, Media Relations, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation; Brian Lewis, executive vice president, Corporate Communications, Fox Business Network, Fox News, News Corporation; Daniel S. Whitman, assistant professor, Rucks Department of Management, Louisiana State University Subject: credit score, employers, Fox Business, Act II, NIH
The authors of the report have not replied. One of them is quoted in a story dated one day ago and published by Rupert Murdoch of Fox Business Network and News Corporation. Murdoch published, “According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of employers check applicants’ credit scores for at least some of their job candidates as part of their hiring process.” Then, the word scores changed to reports.
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 4:48 PM To: Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO, News Corporation (via Julie Henderson) Cc: Dr. Woody; Dr. Woody (via Tom Estley) Subject: credit score, employers, Fox Business, Dr. Woody
You published, “According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of employers check applicants’ credit scores for at least some of their job candidates as part of their hiring process.”
However, SHRM, itself, states, “A credit score is a number that gives a snapshot of a period of time; employers do not see this information.”
And, even you published, “Contrary to popular belief, employers can only see your credit report, not your credit score.”
We’ve been over this, Mr. Murdoch, but you keep publishing the same error. What are you doing to keep from misinforming the public again and what are you doing to clean up your mess on Yahoo!?
The Credit Scoring Site creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio 45409-0342
From: Greg Fisher [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011 11:36 AM To: Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation (via Rudnay address); Linda Carroll, The Body Odd, msnbc.com, Comcast Cc: Jeremy Berneth, assistant professor, Robert H. & Patricia Hines Professorship in Management, Rucks Department of Management, E. J. Ourso College of Business, Louisiana State University; Shannon G. Taylor, assistant proessor, management, Northern Illinois University; Jack Walker, assistant professor, Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech; Daniel S. Whitman, assistant professor, Rucks Department of Management, Louisiana State University; Ashley Berthelot, Media Releations, Louisiana State University; Michael Kesterton, columnist, The Globe and Mail, Thomson; Globe and Mail corrections, Thomson; John V. Lombardi, president, Louisiana State University; Melba J. T. Vasquez, PhD, president, American Psychological Association Subject: RE: credit score, employers, LSU, mainstream, Comcast NBC