What do lenders look at when deciding whether to approve a loan? Typically, lenders making almost any kind of credit decision will look at a variety of types of information, including one or more credit scores. While there are many kinds of credit scores, the most frequently used are credit bureau risk scores developed by Fair, Isaac. These are commonly known as FICO® scores, although they have different names at each of the national credit reporting agencies. A score is a number that tells a lender how likely an individual is to repay a loan, or make credit payments on time. When a lender requests a credit report and score from a credit reporting agency, the score is calculated by a "scorecard" or scoring model - a mathematical equation that evaluates many types of information from your credit report at that agency. By comparing this information to the patterns in thousands of past credit reports, scoring identifies your level of credit risk.
Listed below are the five main categories of information on a credit report that Fair Isaac scores evaluate, along with their general level of importance. Within these categories is a complete list of the information that goes into a FICO score. Please note that:
When a lender receives your Fair, Isaac credit bureau risk score, up to four "score reason codes" are also delivered. These explain the top reasons why your score was not higher. They say things like "Number of accounts with delinquency." If the lender rejects your request for credit, these reason codes can help the lender tell you why your score wasn't higher.
These reason codes are more helpful than the score itself in helping you determine whether your credit report might contain errors, and how you might improve your score over time. However, if you already have a high score some of the reason codes may not be very helpful, as they may be marginal factors related to the last three categories above.
Fair, Isaac credit bureau risk scores are available to lenders through the major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union). The score from each credit reporting agency considers only the data in your credit report at that agency. This is why you may have a different score from each of the credit reporting agencies.
Fair, Isaac credit bureau risk scores provide the best risk guide available based solely on credit report data. The higher the score, the lower the risk. There are also other types of scores available to lenders. But no score says whether a specific individual will be a "good" or "bad" customer. And while many lenders use FICO scores to help them make lending decisions, each lender has its own strategy, including the level of risk it finds acceptable for a given credit product. There is no single "cutoff score" used by all lenders.
FICO credit bureau risk scores are calculated by the credit reporting agency, using Fair, Isaac's scoring models, when the score is requested by a lender. Only the credit reporting agencies have the data needed to calculate a FICO score. Fair, Isaac can't access or correct data at the credit reporting agencies, or calculate a score. To get a copy of your credit report or to correct information in the report, contact the credit reporting agency directly.
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