Credit Score Confusion

The Credit Score Marketplace

There are two market forces that make it difficult for consumers to get their credit scores. The first is the aggressive marketing to consumers by Experian and TransUnion of their own proprietary scores, which although having only a vague resemblance the FICO scores used by lenders, are sold as “credit scores” without qualification. Experian’s score is called the PLUS Score, and TransUnion, who until recently sold their TrueCredit Score, is now marketing the Vantage Score. Equifax, to their credit, sells a FICO score, but as it is only calculated on the content of the Equifax database it provides only one-third of the complete picture.

The Score Illusion

The marketing of credit reports and scores by the credit bureaus and their subsidiaries, including the ubiquitous, is so pervasive that the average consumer automatically associates “credit scores” with these advertised non-FICO scores. As a result, consumers spend billions of dollars each year on scores that have no practical application.

Money Talks

It is worth mentioning that the credit bureaus could offer FICO scores. The FICO scores used by lenders are purchased directly from the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus are happy to sell FICO scores – to lenders. And Fair Isaac would be happy to have the credit bureaus sell FICO scores to consumers – like Equifax does. But for now, Experian and TransUnion have made other choices.