You already know about your FICO credit score, which helps lenders determine your creditworthiness and is based on the information found in your credit reports. But there are other types of consumer scores out there that are relatively unknown – but which can affect you tremendously. Lenders formulate these secret scores for you based on a variety of factors that go beyond your credit payment history. Liz Pulliam Weston, an expert on credit scores, has written about these secret scores, where are important to understand as apply for credit and seek to improve your credit score. So here are eight scores in addition to a standard credit score that lenders use to judge you:
Response Score: You know all those “pre-approved” offers you get in the mail? Someone is tallying the number you throw away and determining how likely you are to respond to pre-screened offers of credit.
Application Score: When you fill out a credit application, you divulge information about your employment, assets, income, address history, and more. This information rarely finds its way onto your standard credit report, and isn’t a factor in determining your credit score. Instead, the information is number-crunched by lenders and manipulated into your “application score.”
Revenue Score: This score measures how much money you’re likely to make the creditor. If you pay your balance off in full each month and avoid all those gotchas fees, you’re likely to have a low revenue score.
Behavior Score: This measures your overall performance with one creditor. It’s like a mini-credit score that judges your creditworthiness based solely on how you use one credit account.
Attrition Score: This score addresses the likelihood that you may leave one lender for another, or stop using one credit card in favor for a different one. If you score high enough (that is, you are likely to leave your creditor), you might start receiving convenience checks in the mail or other incentives to continue to use your current account.
Transaction Score: Also called a “fraud score,” this measures how you use your credit card. By tracking your credit card spending patterns, credit card companies can better judge whether or not a new transaction is fraudulent or not. This sometimes backfires: your creditor may shut off your card if you use it in a foreign country or make a large purchase at a store you’ve never shopped at before.
Bankruptcy Score: How likely you are to declare Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Lenders formulate a risk score that aims to predict your likelihood of declaring bankruptcy.
Collection Score: Debt collectors calculate this score for you to determine your likelihood to pay the debt you’ve defaulted on. If you have a low collection score, debt collection agencies are not as likely to aggressively pursue you, because they don’t want to waste their energy or resource trying to collect debt that is unlikely to be recovered.
There you have it! Now you’ve gained a deeper appreciation of just how much creditors know about you and your financial profile. Beware! When it comes to your financial health, someone is always watching, turning it into a score, and judging you with it. And unfortunately, these scores remain largely hidden from us. While the credit bureaus are legally required to show us our credit reports and scores if we ask for them, there is no similar obligation for lenders to share these “secret scores.” The best thing you can do is continue to be a responsible credit user by making timely payments and not taking on more debt than you can handle.
Carrie Davis is a personal finance blogger at SpendOnLife, a site dedicated to giving readers true and accurate information about credit, debt, and identity theft. She is FCRA-certified and has a passion for educating others on how to achieve financial independence. Follow Carrie through the SpendOnLife RSS feed or on Twitter @SpendOnLife.
Published or updated March 22, 2012.