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FICO explains new disclosures

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Posted: 2 pm ET

The generator of the most-used credit score has revamped its educational website to reflect new score disclosures rules taking effect Thursday.

Fair Isaac Corp., the creator of the FICO score, breaks down the new credit score disclosures consumers will receive from lenders on Scoreinfo.org and provides sample notices. The goal is to help consumers make sense of the scores to which they will suddenly be exposed.

"We expect more than a billion credit decisions will be made this year, and we expect hundreds of millions of these new notices to be sent out," says Bradley Graham, product management director at FICO.com. "And some people may receive more than one in a year."

Here's the nutshell version of the disclosure rules: When a consumer is denied credit or receives terms that are less than the best available, creditors must provide consumers with the credit score used to make that decision along with additional information about the score.

The notice will include the credit score, the range of  possible credit scores under the model, four key factors that hurt the score -- the number of inquiries can be added as a fifth factor -- the date the score was created and the reporting agency that provided it.

"These notices are filled with information, and it is not always obvious what they mean or what consumers should do," Bradley says.  "Scoreinfo.org can help you with that."

For example, a consumer can match one of the key factors affecting his or her score to "FICO Score Factors Guide" on Scoreinfo.org (under the tab FICO Scores) and find out what to do about that factor to boost the score. Or, consumers unfamiliar with credit scores also can check out what makes up the FICO score and how much each factor is weighed.

Keep in mind that the score you receive may or may not be a FICO score. (Consumers should also check out proprietary scores offered by the three reporting agencies Experian, Equifax and TransUnion along with the VantageScore to get a fuller perspective.)

Still, good credit advice is universal, so the tips at Scoreinfo.org should help most consumers.

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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