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Don’t be surprised if the FICO scores of some of your clients change this summer.

That’s when the Fair Isaac Corp., creator of the FICO score — an acronym of its original name — will introduce a new scoring system that could penalize consumers with rising debt levels.

The new system, called FICO Score 10T, looks back two years or more at a consumer’s debt levels rather than the most recent month’s data, which is the current methodology for FICO.

Consumers with high FICO scores — 680 or higher — could conceivably get a boost in their credit scores once the new system takes effect so long as they continue to manage their finances well. But those with low scores — below 600 — could see their scores decline, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

In its news release, FICO, which Fair Isaac calls itself, says the new system enhances the “predictive power” of credit score ratings, which can help reduce the number of defaults in lenders’ portfolios. Comparing FICO Score 10 to FICO Score 9, the default rate on newly originated mortgages could fall by 17% and on new bank cards and new auto loans by 10% and 9%, respectively, according to FICO.

“These improvements in predictive power can help lenders safely avoid unexpected credit risk and better control default rates, while making more competitive credit offers to more consumers,” says FICO. More than 90% of lenders’ consumer credit decisions are based on the FICO score, according to the company.

Analyst Ted Rossman of says, “Lenders will be drawn to the much lower default rates the FICO 10 Suite is promising.”

Referring to the 24-month-plus lookback, Rossman explains: “FICO 10T will incorporate trended data, which basically means that they’re going to try to smooth out the peaks and valleys. A temporary spending spike such as a vacation or holiday shopping won’t hurt your credit score as much if you generally keep your credit utilization low. Ultimately, though, change comes slowly in credit monitoring. “

According to the latest data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, U.S. household debt has grown for 21 consecutive quarters through Sept. 30, 2019, to total a record $13.95 trillion. Mortgages accounted for 68% of the debt, student loans 11%, auto loans 9% and credit card loans 6%. The remaining 6% is split equally between revolving home equity loans and other loans.

— Check out Most Americans Expect Their Finances to Be Same or Worse in 2020: Survey on ThinkAdvisor.


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