Consumers Keep Tabs on Credit Scores

Fair Isaac Corp., pioneer of the FICO credit score used by lenders to evaluate consumer credit risk, said that its myFICO consumer division and its partners have sold the 10-millionth FICO score to U.S. consumers. The milestone coincides with the fourth anniversary of www.myFICO.com.

"In four short years, myFICO.com has grown from a one-product experiment in consumer education to become the most trusted source in the country for people wanting to learn their real credit rating and the kinds of actions they can take to improve it over time," said Cheri St. John, vice president of Global Scoring and Consumer Solutions for Fair Isaac, in a press release.

"As a consumer destination, myFICO.com is unmatched in the industry for the product innovation, educational tools and information it provides."

As an example, Ms. St. John cited Suze Orman's FICO Kit, the industry's first collaboration with a celebrity financial expert to provide consumers with personalized information to help them understand what they can do to improve their credit standing and potential over time.

"That little three-digit number - your FICO score - is the most important number you have when it comes to your financial future," said Ms. Orman, an Emmy-winning talk show host and author of The New York Times best-seller, "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke."

"Just about every financial move you make for the rest of your life will be somehow linked to your FICO score. Knowing and improving your FICO score is the most important way to make more out of your money."

Since its introduction in 2001, myFICO.com has delivered a steady stream of new and useful credit education tools to consumers. Key innovations over the past four years include:

* In 2004, myFICO and Equifax launched Score Watch, the first product to continuously monitor subscribers' FICO scores and credit files and alert them to changes that could qualify them for better interest rates.

* In 2003, myFICO.com became the first Web destination to provide consumers with FICO scores from all three national credit reporting agencies, and it remains the sole consumer source for all three scores today. Also, myFICO.com introduced myFICO Identity Theft Security, its unique solution for identity-theft detection that monitors hundreds of databases for changes to personal information that are often the earliest signs of identity theft.

* In 2002, myFICO.com introduced a pair of innovations. Its FICO Score Simulator answered consumers' desire to learn how specific financial actions might impact their FICO score over time if other factors stay the same. The service also introduced a Web tool matching consumers' FICO scores with current auto, home-equity and mortgage loan rates in their states to help them understand their current credit potential. Both tools are still available free to visitors at myFICO.com.

* In 2001, Fair Isaac and Equifax jointly set the nation's standard for score disclosure products with their introduction of Score Power. Score Power packaged consumers' FICO scores from Equifax with their underlying credit reports and personalized explanations of their scores, including best strategies for improving them over time. Fair Isaac launched myFICO.com with that initial product on March 19, 2001.

The FICO credit score is used to make billions of credit decisions each year, including more than 75% of mortgage loan originations, according to Fair Isaac. In addition, more than 40 of the nation's 50 largest financial institutions rely on the FICO score to help them determine an indiviual's credit risk.

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