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Credit Score Alternatives Are Gaining Ground

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: September 25, 2017

Are you one of the millions of Americans who saw their credit scores plunge during the recession? The housing crisis of 2008 saw many of us locked into mortgages we couldn't afford and many people either lost their jobs or were forced to take a pay cut. Translation, a lot of bills went unpaid and many credit scores took a nosedive.

Today, many of us are back on track. We are back to work and back to on-time payments but our credit reports still retain the negative listings that remain with us for up to seven years. This leaves creditors scrambling for alternative lending models because they are finding it difficult to qualify consumers based on credit scores alone.

What Credit Scores Are Currently Being Used by Lenders?

Each of the three major credit bureaus uses the FICO Score. This score is based on reports made to Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Not all creditors report to all three bureaus so the bureaus' FICO scores vary. Still, it is based on the same scoring model, determined by:

  • Consumers' history of paying their debts on time.
  • How much of their available credit have they used.
  • How many different types of credit are they using.
  • Do they have a history of unpaid debts.

Other scoring models include:

  • Deposit Behavior Score — This score tracks how people manage their money by reviewing their checking and savings accounts.
  • Job Security Score — This score is based on a person's credit worthiness which is based on income stability.
  • Credit Optics Plus — This scoring model predicting risk by tracking stability factors such as changes of address, telephone lines and other personal data.

What Are Some Alternative Ways of Determining Credit Worthiness?

Instead of relying on the quantitative credit score, lenders may be moving toward a more qualitative approach based on a combination of factors. In addition to traditional credit scores and income, lenders may also consider:

  • Social networking
  • Professional licenses
  • Value of your home
  • Criminal history

Could the Way You Interact on FaceBook, Twitter, and Other Social Networks Affect Your Credit Worthiness?

It is absolutely possible. While it is by no means a mainstream approach to credit extension, lenders realize the potential for garnering invaluable information from our social media profiles. There are different variations of this lending platform, but the gist of your social networking creditworthiness may be based on what lenders can tell about:

  • Your education.
  • How long you have held jobs.
  • How many connections you have.
  • The quality of your connections.
  • The location and seniority of your connections.

How to Maximize Credit Worthiness Via Alternatives to Traditional Credit Scores

First and foremost, keep doing all the things that ensure a healthy FICO Score, like paying your bills on time, keeping your credit utilization ratio low, using your credit cards but paying off the balances each month.

Beyond that, do all you can to create a healthy stable lifestyle. Secure lucrative work you like and want to keep. Consider continuing your education and/or pursuit of professional licenses. Build a network of positive, like-minded connections via social media sites where you share the best of yourself, and encourage the best in others.