Young consumers and banks share a common problem. The consumers are faced with the fact that “You have to have credit to get credit.” Banks are faced with wanting to find new customers who will be responsible bill payers – and they know that about fifty million Americans would fit that category, even though they have no credit history to prove it.
For a few years, a company called “PRBC – Payment Reporting Builds Credit” provided a so-called “FICO Expansion score” which maintains data about your monthly bill paying habits – including your utilities, rent, cell phone service, etc. Then the FICO Expansion Score evaluates your credit risk based on your history of paying those bills. According to reports from FICO, the Expansion score is producing a reliable, predictive score that opens the way to credit for millions of Americans who would not otherwise qualify.
This Expansion Score ranges from 300 to 850 with higher scores given to consumers who pay their bills on time. While the FICO Expansion Score isn’t yet available to consumers, when you give your permission, lenders can access it to approve credit-based applications.
In addition to being a permission-based report, the big difference between traditional scores and the Expansion scores is the way data is collected.
PRBC does not automatically collect data from utilities, landlords, or the hometown store that extends you credit. The information has to come from you, with your authorization.
As you continue to pay bills on time, your Expansion score will grow. If pay your bills by cash or check, you can manually add your account payment history and have PRBC verify the information for a fee.