New Credit Report Includes Rent-to-Own Contracts, Payday Loans

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — CoreLogic debuted a new credit report in November that incorporates data from sources  that traditional credit scoring models have previously overlooked.

These sources will include information on lease applications, mortgages with lenders that don’t report to the major credit bureaus and homes owned without any credit obligation, such as those paid for with cash or ones that were given as gifts. The new scoring model will also include non-traditional lending data from payday lenders, rent-to-own agreements and specialty installment lending instruments like used-car loans.

The report is meant to provide the foundation for a new credit score the analytics products and services company will launch in partnership with FICO in 2012. CoreLogic says it developed the new score to help make credit available to those who might not have otherwise been granted it. 

“Until now, consumers who have used non-traditional credit or never purchased a home may have had a difficult time qualifying for loans and credit cards,” Tim Grace, senior vice president of product management for CoreLogic, said in a written statement. “The CoreScore credit report will allow these individuals to be recognized for how they have managed their finances.”

But consumer advocates worry that the new scoring model will actually do the opposite of what it was designed to do.

“Widening the scope of information could create real problems for low- and moderate-income consumers,” Ira Rheingold, the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, says. He adds that using information from payday lenders and debt collectors, which don’t exactly have reputations for being consumer-friendly, are likely to lead to more unnecessary blemishes on a person’s record than establish a good payment history.

Additionally, he says, “there are lots of reasons why you might receive an eviction notice that don’t necessarily have anything to do with not paying your rent.”  Low-income consumers, for instance, could withhold rent payments because the conditions in their apartment buildings are unsatisfactory.

“You’re looking at more records, but how much of them are garbage?” Rheinegold says. “[These sources] may not paint an accurate picture of who the consumer really is.”

But CoreLogic says the score is also meant to let all “consumers see a more complete picture of their credit history and other factors that may bear on their creditworthiness and thus enable them to better manage their finances and credit choices.”

The company also maintains that consumers will be able to easily dispute any misinformation they find on the new report. 

“As with other credit reporting agencies, consumers have the ability to dispute erroneous information quickly and have it accurately resolved, or to even freeze access to their credit information all together,” Grace said.

Want to know more about how traditional credit scoring models work? Check out MainStreet’s in-depth look at who’s behind your credit score.

—Jeanine Skowronski is staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach her by email at Skowronski.jeanine@thestreet.com, or follow her on Twitter at @JeanineSko.

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