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Did read stickies; need nu guru info on score products, pls?

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Dear fellow forum members and gurus,

Along with another new member in this forum recently, I’m also somewhat confused about scores. Unlike his post, these are generic questions, not case specific.

I haven’t seen a newish “sticky” about this. (If so, I apologize. Tell me where, please.) I’ve read the “sticky” called “Credit Scoring 101”, (July 2003). Respectfully, dear gurus, it needs updating at the least, but useful still.

Maybe this site needs a forum on Credit Scoring alone? But I digress.

Just how many major credit scores are there (for the consumer/general public)? And which brand names should a consumer obtain? Should I be concerned as to which brand names a potential lender will buy? (i.e., if a lender pulls an Experian CR, but says he looks at the middle of 3 scores, then that’s not necessarily an Experian score, is it?

It seems there are at least four to seven brands or versions (again, for the public).

Will someone knowledgeable specify how many important ones there are, what their trade names are and which company actually creates them?

There are a bewildering number of references, with all types of names, about scores. Especially the common listings I see with posts herein, showing EX, EQ & TU score numbers. (Are those really produced by those companies or by FICO or just mislabelled by members here?)

So far, this is my perception of the major companies which make scores. Please correct it:

1. Experian’s own “Plus” brand score, based on its database.

2. Equifax’s own “proprietary” score, based on its database.

3. TransUnion’s own “proprietary” score, based on its database.

4. FICO, in order to create its own scores, must use data from the 3 big CRAs, so I perceive at least 4 possible compilations from FICO. On myfico.com, FICO advertises at least the first 3:

a. FICO score based on Experian’s database.

b. FICO score based on Equifax’s database.

c. FICO score based on TransUnion’s database, plus, I would think,

d. FICO score based on all 3 databases, compiled?

That makes at least 7 “brands” of scores the common consumer could conceivably order, not counting other lesser sources like the one I got last night through a free trial period with “Privacy Matters”, (a part of True Credit?). Its score, in the fine print at the bottom of the second page, is only described as “based on data from TransUnion”. Does that mean it is the TransUnion “house brand”?).

Besides the answers to any/all of the above questions, I would like to know which scores to order on a CONSISTENT basis, so as to logically track over time the progress of my scores and figure how certain actions are affecting my credit. (Not considering, right now, the factoring in of price deals, discounts, etc.)


Am I overthinking this?

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FICO is the only "official" score out there. The problem is that FICO is constantly updating their formula and companies have to buy it on a subscription basis. This means that even the FICO score can vary from one company to another depending on when they last bought a software update.

Unfortunately, consumers are pretty much at the mercy of the lenders in this regard, you can't go to myfico.com and pay your $27 for the current FICO score then hand it to a lender to be used. They use what they choose to use and they are not required to do otherwise. Being able to access a FICO score (or any other model) is only a guage for the consumer and not one that is guaranteed.

I myself got a FICO score from TU of 705 and went to a lender the very next day. They pulled using an older model and came up with 648...quite a large difference. But it doesn't matter to them what I pulled for the score. Only what they calculate.

Personally, I think the government needs to adress this problem through new law. Consumers need to know not just the score they are being rated on but the model and version of the model being used. To be blunt, FICO and any other company should have full disclosure of their calculations so consumers can see what goes into it. As it stands now, it's a "proprietary trade secret." Even the government has no details on what goes into the FICO score.

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Thanks, Methuss,

OK, so the question becomes: which score product(s) to buy consistently for long term comparisons?

Should I buy FICO's brand of score for each of the 3 CRAs? Or ask which score company the lender is going to use and buy the score that company will sell me the consumer?

I've been told my target lender needs me to have a 700 score to get a certain CL on a future HELOC, thus the need to check scores while I repair credit in the next couple of months.

OOPS, one more question, please. Last night, I got my Experian CR and their PLUS score. Something's fishy (clerical error?) because my CR accurately shows a BK 6.5 years ago and 1 or 2 other derogatories. The last PLUS score 3 months ago was 637. Last night's score from EX was 784, which is just unrealistic and has to be wrong. It was pulled in the same online session as the CR. Should I call and ask re this via the phone # they gave me in the report? Or just let sleeping dogs alone?

It's not going to do me any good, because it's likely to be different in 1-2 months, if and when my lender looks at it.

What say you?


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