The average credit score for U.S. consumers dropped two points to 669 at the end of January from 671 at the start of the year, according to a report released today by Credit Karma Inc., a San Francisco-based company that tracks national credit scores. The average score is down eight points from just two months ago. Credit Karma pulled its new data from 100,500 users. 

Ken Lin, Credit Karma's CEO, in an e-mail to Collections & Credit Risk, predicted that credit scores will hold steady in 2010. “I think many people really started to get a handle on their finances in 2008. They started to pay attention to how their credit was affecting them,” says Lin. “This is why you don’t see such big decreases [in 2009] as you may expect.”

Consumers in the Miami Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) started the year with the lowest credit scores nationwide, with an average of 654 - 15 points below the national average. Scores increased for individuals in just three states - Texas (660), North Carolina (664) and South Carolina (648). All three are still below the national average. Scores declined by more than five points in three states: Louisiana from 645 to 639; Michigan from 662 to 657; and Missouri from 663 to 656.

Nationwide, consumers lowered their credit card debt by 2% in January from a month earlier, ending a three-month upward trend. Consumers ended January with average credit card debt of $7,925, down from $8,079 at the end of 2009. Consumers in four states - Kentucky, Minnesota, Oregon and West Virginia - paid down card debt by more than 5%.

Each month, the Credit Karma U.S. Consumer Credit Score Climate Report compares the credit scores of its user base with previous scores pulled at least 30 days earlier and no more than 90 days earlier than the stated month.

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