Mortgage lenders have plenty of issues to deal with at the moment, but at least one of them will be going away soon. Fair Isaac Corp., the company that created the FICO score that most lenders use to assess creditworthiness, will eliminate an element of its credit scoring model that made possible a practice that can make lenders think borrowers have better credit than they really do.
With the September roll-out of its FICO 08, the newest version of the Classic FICO credit score, Fair Isaac will stop including authorized users of credit cards as a factor in determining a person's credit score.
The move is in response to a small, but potentially fraudulent industry that popped up recently. For a fee, consumers have been able to boost their credit scores by essentially renting another person's good credit history. They have been using a provision in credit card law that permits card holders to add authorized users to their accounts. After a few weeks, the payment history of the primary card holder flows through to the authorized user's credit report. Typically, authorized users are spouses and children, but they don't have to be. Companies charge borrowers with shaky credit hundreds of dollars to be added as an authorized user to a card owned by a person with an excellent credit history.
"We will do whatever it takes to protect the reliability and accuracy of FICO credit scores for lenders, and to ensure lenders can continue to use FICO scores with confidence when making their most important customer decisions," Dr. Mark Greene, CEO of Fair Isaac, said in a statement. "We will continue working with lenders, regulators and others in the credit reporting industry to end deceptive practices that fraudulently misrepresent consumer credit histories for profit."