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Experian offering higher credit scores in exchange for access to bank accounts

Will use utility, cell phone payments to calculate FICO score

Experian wants access to consumers’ bank accounts as part of an effort to help people boost their credit scores.

Experian announced Tuesday that it is launching a new program called “Experian Boost.” Through the program, consumers grant access to their bank accounts to allow Experian to use utility and telecommunications payments in the calculation of their credit score.

According to Experian, using utility and cell phone payment history will help improve the credit score of a number of people, especially those with a thin credit file and scores between 580 and 669.

After signing up for the program, which is free, consumers provide access to their bank account, verify the payment data and confirm that they want it added to their Experian credit file. Then, Experian provides an updated FICO score, which in many cases, will be an improved FICO score.

Experian notes however that the credit score in question is based on the FICO Score 8 model, which is not score primarily used in mortgage lending.

According to Experian, adding consumer payment history to a credit file will allow lenders to make more informed decisions when examining prospective borrowers.

Experian also said that only positive payment histories will be aggregated through the platform, adding that consumers are allowed to remove the new data at any time.

Experian touts the control that consumers will have over the process, stating that there is no limit to how many times a person can contribute new data to their credit file.

“Globally, we are constantly innovating and leveraging technology to find new ways to help consumers gain access to quality credit, while promoting fair and responsible lending,” Experian Global CEO Brian Cassin said. “We are committed to financial inclusion, and Experian Boost is the latest example of our efforts to increase consumer awareness of credit’s impact and value while giving them greater control.”

According to Experian, the program is expected to help a significant number of consumers, provided they agree to give the credit bureau access to even more of their data.

Experian said that early analysis of the program shows that two out of three people’s credit scores increased after granting access to their bank accounts.

Additionally, Experian claims that its analysis of the program showed the following:

  • 10% of thin-file consumers became scoreable
  • For consumers with a score below 680, 75% saw an improvement in their credit score
  • 14% of consumers with a credit score at or below 579 moved to a near prime score between 620 – 679
  • Depending on credit tier, 5-15% moved into a better score category
  • The risk predictiveness of the score was maintained

Experian is partnering with Finicity, a provider of real-time financial data aggregation and insights, to access consumers’ bank accounts. The companies previously announced an agreement to use FICO’s new UltraFICO score, which uses access to consumers’ bank accounts to provide a more through look at their creditworthiness.

“Experian is a true pioneer in giving consumers control that could immediately impact their credit scores,” Cassin said. “Experian Boost marks our next step in delivering the most innovative and consumer-centric solutions, supporting our mission to be the consumer’s bureau and bringing lenders and borrowers together more efficiently than ever before.”

According to Experian, the program will be available to all “credit active adults” beginning in early 2019.

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