Et tu, Suze?

Credit score expert (there are few) John Ulzheimer is a Nonbeliever.

Recently, while schlepping her new prepaid card, Emmy award winner and “internationally acclaimed personal finance expert” Suze Orman has been saying, inaccurately, that employers use credit scores.  However, employers do not use credit scores; they cannot even get them.  One media organization who allowed her to make the statment even edited it out.

Yesterday, Ulzheimer wrote, “My request [to Orman] was very simple: can you please stop saying that employers use credit scores?”

The inaccurate information may never end.

credit score, employers, Associated Press

From: Greg Fisher []
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2012 10:33 PM
To: Eileen AJ Connelly, Associated Press
Cc: William Dean Singleton (via Bernie Fischer, MediaNews Group), chairman & CEO, MediaNews Group
Subject: credit score, employers, Associated Press

You wrote, “Not having a credit score, or having a low one, also can mean higher car insurance rates, higher rent, difficulty getting a job and paying higher interest rates for any credit available.”

Your report is inaccurate.  The consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

Who is your source?

What will you do to correct your error?

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



Suze Orman’s schtick

The consumer reporting agencies all state that they do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

Suze Orman, “internationally acclaimed personal finance expert,” is on tour right now, and tonight, she has a spot on Real Time with Bill Maher [submit question].

Despite the fact that employers do not use credit scores (they cannot even get them), Orman keeps saying (and writing) that employers do use credit scares scores.  It must sell.

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).

She also said, “In my opinion, credit scoring is obsolete” (1:13) while her mug still sits on the FICO credit score website as she hawks credit scores.

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).

Oh, brother.

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.”



Suze Orman’s social experiment

This train wreck is almost unbearable to watch.

Suze Orman, “internationally acclaimed personal finance expert,” is hustling her thing called the Approved Card.  But she doesn’t seem to know what kind of card it is.

The fabulous expert showed up in fabulous Manhattan to talk to Lucy Danziger, the fabulous editor of SELF, the fabulous magazine from the fabulous Condé Nast.  Danziger, who describes Orman as “the smartest woman about money in perhaps the world” asked, “Is this a credit card?”

Looking annoyed, Orman replied, “No!  It’s a debit card!”

Moments later, holding up the card for effect, she said, “It is possible that in 18 to 24 months from right here, a debit card will be deemed to generate a FICO score.”

As the chatterboxes signed off, Danziger said, “And, good luck with your credit card!”

Wagging her finger, Orman yelled, “Debit card!” and gave the camera a stupid look.

Danziger yelled back, Oprah-style, “Debit card!”

Orman hollered, Oprah-style, “Actually–my prepaid card!”

The yelling stopped as they realized what a mess they were making, and Danziger said, soberly, “Good luck with your prepaid debit card.”

Orman replied, deadpan, “No, just prepaid card.”


The worst thing about the interview, however, beyond the credit/debit/prepaid knuckleheadedness (or the bad audio– it isn’t your computer), is that the smartest woman about money in perhaps the world repeated this, now preposterous, urban legend:

“Employers are starting not to hire you if you don’t have a good credit report and a good credit score.”

The consumer reporting agencies do not provide credit scores for employment purposes.

Excellent journalist that she is, the editor just said, “Interesting,” swallowed it whole, and let the blowhard continue.

Su–ze — Or–man — just — won’t — shut — up — about it.

And, if you give her any guff, she’ll call you an idiot.

Bring it.


UPDATE 2/3/12

Here’s the new video, with the part about employers using credit scores (since they are not) edited out:


The Matrix: NBC, Reuters, Suze Orman, FICO and American Public Media

They did the dirty deed, spreading the big credit score urban legend.

Hardy har har.  There’s a tongue in cheek campaign to replace Suze Orman with Reuters’ tough Lauren “I demand a lot of answers” Young. But, in reality, it’s a perfect match.  That is, they both believe the same myth: that employers use credit scores.

Oh, those British and their dry wit. 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 are redirected to 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. –

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, “ 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 in that sentence actually links to the disgraced 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’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. addresses the concerns of its members:

We link to services provided by two of the largest credit bureaus ( 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 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, 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, 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–, 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.


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, 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.