Access to FICO Scores Expected to Soar



JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America plan to start offering FICO scores they have on customers to them for free, according to a statement released Monday by the White House.

The moves likely will make a score once known in many cases only by lenders more readily available to millions of consumers. FICO scores, created by Fair Isaac Corp., are used in about 90% of consumer-lending decisions.

Consumers have dozens of FICO scores but in many cases the scores they can purchase aren’t the exact FICO scores a lender has on them.

Along with the two banks, auto-lending giant Ally Financial is expected to start offering FICO scores to its loan customers.

Lenders commonly review credit score and credit report changes for borrowers. This includes information such as how much credit card debt they owe compared to spending limits and whether they’ve fallen behind on payments to other lenders that would point to increased risk.

Lenders are feeling more pressure from federal regulators and the news about the expanded credit score availability likely was influenced by the pressure.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau called on large credit card lenders in February 2014 to make credit scores available to consumers.

FICO launched the “Open Access” partnership program in November 2013 and has added Discover Financial Services, Barclaycard, First National Bank of Omaha and Sallie Mae, among other lenders, to the program. The program shows consumers the two most important factors impacting their credit scores. Consumers can only access the program if their financial institution subscribes to it. The program is available to all servicers that use FICO scores to evaluate credit risk.

Bank of America will start providing credit card users with their FICO score later this year. Ally Financial will begin to offer car-loan customers their score next month in a pilot phase, according to a spokeswoman. Ally customers will be eligible to see their score, though they will need an account online, where the score will be made available.

Chase expects in the coming months to offer FICO scores free to its credit card users who use its “Slate” card. Chase has approximately 10 million Slate card holders.

Fair Isaac officials told The Wall Street Journal last month that it expects nearly 60 million consumers in the U.S. to soon have access to their FICO scores, up from an estimated 32 million in December and 8 million when the program first launched. The figures don’t include Bank of America, Chase or Ally.

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Danny Ramirez 
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