Fair Issac Corporation -- purveyor of the ubiquitous FICO score used to score most mortgage credit applications -- said this morning that it has partnered with Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC) to provide rental payment and bill payment histories as part of its FICO Expansion Score suite. Fair Issac characterized the new score as a tool "U.S. mortgage lenders can use when assessing the risk of applicants who have little or no traditional credit history." FICO Expansion Score will incorporate these new data elements when calculating the credit risk of individuals who have minimal or no credit history on file. The FICO Expansion score uses non-traditional credit data to create a score that aligns with the FICO credit score used today by most mortgage lenders, using the same 300-850 score range. "PRBC's alliance with Fair Isaac is an important step toward freeing mortgage lenders from the expensive and time-consuming, manual underwriting procedures they encounter when they try to lend to people who have little or no documented credit experience," said Michael Nathans, founder of PRBC. "By adding PRBC's verified rent and bill payment data to Fair Isaac's FICO Expansion Score and associated credit report, we are creating a new standard for assessing the credit risk of thin-file mortgage applicants." Consumer reporting agencies in the National Credit Reporting Association (NCRA) will sell the new risk-assessment package to mortgage lenders and brokers. "NCRA is excited that our members have the opportunity to be part of this revolutionary mortgage credit risk assessment product," said Terry Clemans, NCRA's Executive Director. "The alliance between Fair Isaac and PRBC, combined with data from our membership that has been verified to higher standards than the industry has been accustomed to, will help lenders originate sustainable mortgage loans for an historically overlooked and underserved segment of home buyers." Two issues would seem to come to mind here: one, if there will be credit market left for so-called "thin-file" mortgage applicants; and two, even as a mortgage insider, it astounds me that this sort of work wasn't undertaken earlier by the credit bureaus. For more information, visit http://www.fairisaac.com.