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FICO Fact: Do FICO Scores Consider Telco and Utility Data?

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Do FICO Scores Consider Telco and Utility Data?

The unequivocal answer is yes! FICO® Scores have always considered telco and utility payment data that is furnished to the three nationwide U.S. credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  The inclusion of telco and utility payment information dates back to the release of the very first FICO Scores in 1989.

The next natural question is: how much of this data is available at the three nationwide credit bureaus?  The answer is that while the availability of this data has been increasing, it remains far below other tradeline data such as credit cards, auto loans or mortgages.  For example, in the US, 92 percent of consumers have cell phones, but just 5 percent of consumers have telco data reported in their traditional credit bureau files.

Figure 1: Credit bureau coverage is greater for some types of data than others
Figure 1: Credit bureau coverage is greater for some types of data than others

The story is similar for utilities, where over 60% of American adults pay for utilities such as gas, electricity and water, but just 2.4% of consumer credit bureau files contain utility (non-telco) payment information. 

What this means is that millions of consumers do not benefit from their positive repayment behavior on telco and utility accounts, because those accounts are not found in their traditional credit bureau file. FICO has a solution to this problem.   As an independent analytics provider, we sought out predictive and regulatory-compliant telco and utility payment data from outside the traditional credit bureau files to develop a FICO® Score using this alternative data to give lenders a second opportunity to assess otherwise unscorable consumers.  In fact, we have found that 9 million additional consumers can get a FICO Score of 620 or higher when this data is incorporated into their score. With the FICO® Score Suite more than 232 million consumers are eligible for a FICO® Score, which can be used by lenders to expand access to credit responsibly.

To sum up: is telco and utility information widely captured in the traditional credit bureau files?  No.  But in those instances where it is present in the credit file, does the FICO® Score include that information?  You bet.  And that has been the case for the entirety of the 30+ years that we have been delivering reliable, innovative, and inclusive FICO Scores to the U.S. market.  

Learn more about the FICO® Score Suite and how FICO uses alternative data at the resources below:

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