CFPB releases report comparing credit scores
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report this week highlighting some of the differences the bureau found when comparing credit scores sold to consumers to those used by lenders when deciding whether to issue a mortgage or another type of loan. The report says consumers may be unaware of the differences between consumer and lender credit score reports, which could cause them to pursue loans either too confidently or too negatively depending on what the lender's score says about their overall risk profile. The most widely used scores are the “FICO ” scores sold by FICO — the brand used to identify the Fair Isaac Corp. A joint venture of the three main consumer reporting agencies — VantageScore LLC — also produces credit scores. There are a number of FICO score models in use by lenders, and many other credit score models besides FICO. Consumers can also purchase a wide range of credit scores. While some scores sold to consumers are used by lenders, others are "either not used by lenders at all or are used only infrequently," the CFPB said in its report. "It is important to note that many of the credit scores sold to lenders are not offered for sale to consumers," it said. "The consumer bureau’s mission is to bring transparency to the consumer financial markets so families can compare products and choose the ones that are right for them," said Elizabeth Warren, special adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury and architect of the CFPB. "One way consumers have tried to empower themselves is by knowing their credit scores. We are assessing whether purchasing a credit score provides a consumer with the information he or she needs." The CFPB said a consumer, unaware of the variety of credit scores, may purchase a score believing it to be his or her "true" — or only — credit score, when no such single score exists. Most consumers obtain their scores from one of the thee main consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each may have somewhat different information in their files because not all data providers furnish all three with information or may provide it on different schedules. The Dodd-Frank Act, which was signed into law last year, assigned the CFPB the duty of studying different credit scores to create more transparency for consumers who are shopping for loans. It also is looking at whether the variation of scores sold to lenders versus those sold to consumers is disadvantageous to consumers when they are shopping for a loan. After compiling the report, the CFPB said it would seek additional data from the nation's major credit agencies to continue making comparisons between the two different reports. Write to Kerri Panchuk.