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Experian launches Go, a tool to build your own credit report

For those without the means to boost their credit scores, there's a new DIY option

Summary

A new offering from the credit bureau Experian will allow consumers to connect recurring non-debt payments to their newly created credit reports, according to a media report. 

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A major change is coming to credit reports in the U.S., and it promises to benefit millions of consumers.

The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 25 that Experian, one of the major credit bureaus, is introducing the ability for consumers who don’t have credit reports to create their own credit report from scratch.

American consumers normally rely on Experian and the other two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, to create their credit reports. These reports contain financial data that helps credit card issuers and other lenders determine whether to approve a consumer’s application and what the terms will be, such as the interest rate.

Now, Experian is rolling out what you might call a DIY credit report.

Who can benefit from a DIY credit report?

About 28 million American adults lack credit reports and, therefore, credit scores, according to Experian. So-called “credit invisibility” disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic adults, as well as immigrants, low-income people and those under age 25, Experian says. 

Because they don’t have credit reports and credit scores, this estimated 28 million are often forced to rely on high-interest lending options such as payday loans and title loans because they’re shut out of better alternatives like traditional credit cards and bank loans.

Lenders provide much of the data contained in credit reports, so “credit invisible” consumers often don’t have enough of a traditional financial history to generate a credit report. Payday lenders and other lenders this group might lean on generally don’t report payment history, balances and other account details to the major credit bureaus.

In recent years, some credit bureaus and credit-score providers have begun to allow consumers to self-report the payment of rent, utilities, cellphone and similar bills. But those efforts are designed to boost consumers’ credit scores, meaning the data isn’t used to form the foundation of a credit report.

How Experian Go will help ‘credit invisible’ consumers

Experian’s new offering, known as Go, will allow consumers to connect recurring non-debt payments to their newly created credit reports, according to the Wall Street Journal. This will then establish a credit record that credit card issuers and other lenders can use to determine a consumer’s eligibility for a lending product.

Experian started testing the Go program in October with about 15,000 consumers, WSJ reports. On average, Experian executives told the newspaper, consumers who added non-debt accounts to their DIY credit reports went from no credit score to a FICO score of 665.

FICO, a major supplier of credit scores, defines 665 as a fair credit score. A FICO score ranging from 670 to 739 is considered a good credit score, meaning the odds of being approved and getting attractive terms for a credit card (or other lending product) are greater than for someone with a fair credit score.

Experian says it will market credit cards from issuers like Capital One and Petal to Go participants that the consumers likely will be approved for.

Bottom line

In the evolving effort to broaden the visibility of “credit invisible” consumers, Experian’s Go program could boost the chances for many more Americans to qualify for traditional credit cards and other mainstream lending products.

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