The company behind the FICO credit score – which is used in about 90% of consumer lending decisions – has introduced a pilot program to give “alternative” credit scores to millions of people who don’t currently have one.
This could ultimately allow these people to qualify for mortgages that they can’t get today.
Some 53 million Americans currently don’t have credit scores. Sometimes this is the result of a negative event such as a bankruptcy or foreclosure, but often it’s simply because the person doesn’t have a history of relying on credit.
FICO says it will now give an alternative score to some 15 million of these people, based on their history of paying utility, cell phone and cable bills on time as well as how often they change their address and other publicly available information.
According to the company, about a third of these 15 million people are expected to get an alternative score that’s the equivalent of a FICO score of 620 or better – which is often enough to qualify for a mortgage.
The company also says that if these people obtain a credit card and handle it responsibly for six months, they can qualify for a traditional FICO score as well.