Skip to main content
Close Up of Hands on Laptop

February 23, 2010

FICO Spots Disturbing Trends in Consumer Credit Behavior

February 23, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS—February 23, 2009—FICO (NYSE:FICO), the leading provider of analytics and decision management technology, today announced new and troubling findings uncovered in the latest analysis offered by its subscription service for businesses, FICO® Score Trends. Reversing a long historic trend, mortgage default risk for consumers with high FICO® scores now exceeds their credit card default risk, even though most credit cards are unsecured credit and mortgages are secured by real estate. The company observed a parallel rise in mortgage delinquencies for higher-scoring U.S. consumers.

According to the analysis in FICO Score Trends, recent repayment behavior across the financial services industry has shifted significantly from historical trends. In 2008-2009, bankcard accounts were just 1.6 times more likely to become 90 days delinquent than were mortgage loans. By comparison, in 2005 bankcard accounts were more than three times more likely to become 90 days delinquent. And for borrowers scoring high on the FICO® score’s 300-850 score range, the level of repayment risk actually has become greater for real estate loans than for bankcards. In 2009, 0.3 percent of consumers with FICO scores between 760-789 defaulted on real estate loans, compared to 0.1 percent who defaulted on bankcards.

“We’re identifying lending industry situations in FICO Score Trends that to our knowledge have never been seen before,” said Dr. Mark Greene, CEO of FICO. “Economic instability is creating unknown risk in lenders’ credit portfolios as well as counter-intuitive trends in consumer behavior. While the FICO 8 score continues to prove its unprecedented power in rank-ordering consumers for risk, even low-risk consumers are changing the value they give different credit lines. As the CARD Act goes into effect next week, it likely will create additional, unhelpful pressures on the banking business.”

In FICO Score Trends, company experts found new evidence that lenders tightened their criteria for new loans in 2008-2009 and began “cherry picking” the kinds of borrowers to whom they would extend credit. Mortgage loans opened last year between April and October reflected significantly tighter standards than in prior years. In 2005, nearly 46 percent of consumers who opened a new mortgage had a FICO score less than 700. In 2008 this percentage had dropped to just 25 percent of the newly booked mortgage population. Other industry sectors experienced similar shifts. In the bankcard sector in 2005, 51 percent of consumers with a new credit card had FICO scores less than 700. That percentage dropped to just 38 percent in 2008. As lenders tightened their credit standards, it became correspondingly more difficult for consumers with delinquencies in their credit histories and lower FICO scores to qualify for additional credit.

Regional shifts in risk
FICO also examined FICO Score Trends to learn how credit risk of real estate loans and bankcards varied across U.S. regions. The company found the most dramatic shift in the Pacific region. In 2005, bankcards were 6.4 times more likely to default than were mortgage loans. That percentage dropped to only 1.3 times riskier in 2009.

Consumers in the Midwest region demonstrated the smallest relative change. Bankcards were 2.5 times more risky of default than were mortgages in 2005, but bankcards were just 1.5 times more risky of default by 2009. Borrowers in the Northeast continue to present the least amount of default risk nationally for real estate loans.

These observations were taken from FICO® Score Trends, the subscription service that provides lenders with unique access to industry FICO® score trends indexed by a range of criteria such as industry, geography and time period. Lenders regularly use FICO Score Trends to benchmark their own portfolios and trends in order to improve their risk management and forecasting.

About FICO
FICO (NYSE:FICO) transforms business by making every decision count. FICO’s Decision Management solutions combine trusted advice, world-class analytics and innovative applications to give organizations the power to automate, improve and connect decisions across their business. Clients in 80 countries work with FICO to increase customer loyalty and profitability, cut fraud losses, manage credit risk, meet regulatory and competitive demands, and rapidly build market share. FICO also helps millions of individuals manage their credit health through the www.myFICO.com website.

FICO Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Information
Except for historical information contained herein, the statements contained in this news release that relate to FICO or its business 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 the success of the Company’s Decision Management strategy and reengineering initiative, the maintenance of its existing relationships and ability to create new relationships with customers and key alliance partners, its ability to continue to develop new and enhanced products and services, its ability to recruit and retain key technical and managerial personnel, competition, regulatory changes applicable to the use of consumer credit and other data, the failure to realize the anticipated benefits of any acquisitions, continuing material adverse developments in global economic conditions, and other risks described from time to time in FICO’s SEC reports, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended September 30, 2009, and its quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the period ended December 31, 2009. If any of these risks or uncertainties materializes, FICO’s results could differ materially from its expectations. FICO disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

FICO, 300-850, and FICO Score Trends are trademarks or registered trademarks of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Newsroom Contacts

Greg Jawski
Americas

greg.jawski@porternovelli.com
+1 212-601-8248

Darcy Sullivan
Europe, Middle East & Africa

dsullivan@fico.com
+44 (0) 209-940-8719

Saxon Shirley
Asia Pacific

saxonshirley@fico.com
+65 6422-7795

Marisa Arribas
Latin America

marisaarribas@fico.com
+1 786 482 7231

Milla Delfino
América Latina

milladelfino@fico.com
+55 11 97673-6583