CFPB Releases Results of Study of Differences Between Consumer and Creditor Purchased Credit Scores

In September 2012, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) completed its study, directed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, comparing credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers by nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) (Trans Union, Equifax and Experian) and assessing whether differences between those scores disadvantage consumers.  The CFPB analyzed credit scores from 200,000 credit files from Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian. The CFPB found that:

  • For a majority of consumers the scores produced by different scoring models provided similar information about the relative creditworthiness of the consumers. That is, if a consumer had a good score from one scoring model the consumer likely had a good score on another model. For a substantial minority, however, different scoring models gave meaningfully different results.
  • Different scoring models would place consumers in the same credit-quality category 73-80% of the time. Different scoring models would place consumers in credit-quality categories that are off by one category 19-24% of the time. And from 1% to 3% of consumers would be placed in categories that were two or more categories apart.
  • Different scores did not appear to treat different groups of consumers systematically differently than other scoring models.
  • Consumers cannot know ahead of time whether the scores they purchase will closely track or vary moderately or significantly from a score sold to creditors. Thus, consumers should not rely on credit scores they purchase exclusively as a guide to how creditors will view their credit quality.
  • Firms that sell scores to consumers should make consumers aware that the scores consumers purchase could vary, sometimes substantially, from the scores used by creditors.