"We have competed against the credit reporting agencies' scoring products for many years, and we are happy to compete on a level playing field," said Tom Grudnowski, CEO of Fair Isaac. "However, the recent agreement between the three powerhouse agencies unfairly threatens our ability to compete, and inhibits the ability of consumers and lenders to enjoy the benefits of continued innovation, choice and competition in the credit information marketplace."
Fair Isaac's legal action echoes concerns of prominent consumer advocates that the VantageScore initiative is causing confusion for consumers seeking to understand and manage their credit. "Misleading and confusing marketing claims do not serve consumers' best interests," said Grudnowski.
Currently, the credit reporting agencies sell and distribute FICO® scores directly to lenders. These agencies also own the consumer data on which scores are created, and they have the ability in most cases to set the price a lender pays for both a FICO® score and the score now offered through VantageScore. Citing anti-trust concerns, Fair Isaac believes that this situation allows the agencies to unfairly manipulate the credit score price, sales, and distribution process to promote adoption of their VantageScore product at the expense of fair competition from the FICO score or other credit scoring products.
"The three credit reporting agencies have been our primary U.S. distribution partners for Fair Isaac's scores for more than 15 years," said Grudnowski. "Now, the credit agencies are using their position to drive adoption of their own score to the detriment of our competing FICO score product and in conflict with their obligations to distribute our product."
Among the complaints outlined in yesterday's action are Fair Isaac's contentions that the credit reporting agencies are using false and misleading marketing and advertising claims to promote adoption of the score offered through VantageScore, and that the credit reporting agencies are mischaracterizing Fair Isaac's credit scores. In addition, Fair Isaac believes that the agencies' marketing of a credit score product with a score range that overlaps the trademarked FICO score range of 300-850 is an unfair attempt to profit from confusion caused by the similar score ranges, as well as trademark infringement and a violation of fair trade laws.
Fair Isaac does not expect nor intend that yesterday's action will impair lenders' or consumers' access to Fair Isaac's scores in the immediate future or long-term.
Through yesterday's legal action, Fair Isaac is asking the three credit reporting agencies and VantageScore Solutions, LLC, to stop the unfair competitive activities outlined in the suit, and to conduct business in a way that serves the best interests of the financial services industry and consumers.
About Fair Isaac
Fair Isaac Corporation (NYSE:FIC) makes decisions smarter. The company's solutions and technologies for Enterprise Decision Management give businesses the power to automate more processes, and apply more intelligence to every customer interaction. Through increasing the precision, consistency and agility of their decisions, Fair Isaac clients worldwide increase sales, build customer value, cut fraud losses, manage credit risk, reduce operational costs, meet changing compliance demands and enter new markets more profitably. Founded in 1956, Fair Isaac powers hundreds of billions of decisions per year in financial services, insurance, telecommunications, retail, consumer branded goods, healthcare and the public sector.
Fair Isaac Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Information
Except for historical information contained herein, the statements contained in this press release that relate to Fair Isaac, including statements regarding its FICO® score, and the relationship described herein, and the benefits to be derived from the offering, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially, including any unforseen technical difficulties related to the implementation, use and functionality of the offering, the risks that customers will not perceive material benefits from the offering, failure of the product to deliver the expected results, the possibility of errors or defects in the offering, regulatory changes applicable to the use of consumer credit and other data, the credit reporting agencies' responses to the referenced litigation, the consequences or outcome of the referenced litigation, and other risks described from time to time in Fair Isaac's SEC reports, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended September 30, 2005, and quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2006. Forward-looking statements should be considered with caution. If any of these risks or uncertainties materializes or any of these assumptions proves incorrect, Fair Isaac's results could differ materially from Fair Isaac's expectations in these statements. Fair Isaac disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
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