Equifax Inc. and HNC Software Inc. are collaborating on a service aimed at detecting fraud in loan applications.

Their Gemini Verify Score is based on such telltale signs as telephone numbers that do not match ZIP codes, Social Security numbers that do not match birth dates, and any information in an application that does not match data in a credit report.

The product goes beyond looking for inconsistencies, said Alec Smythe, senior vice president of marketing for Equifax.

"We have taken a sample of fraudulent applications and developed a score," he said, "addressing the likelihood that the application will be fraudulent." He said it is the only statistically based scoring model of this kind.

The score can be used for all kinds of consumer lending, particularly credit card applications, which see the highest incidence of fraud.

Atlanta-based Equifax is combining its credit bureau data with the neural network capabilities of HNC.

Patsy Campbell, a spokeswoman for San Diego-based HNC, said lenders use several techniques to evaluate the authenticity of applications, "but there is nothing at this level that combines so many different tests."

In initial results, Gemini Verify Score identified 50% of a lender's fraudulent applications simply by flagging them with scores in the lowest 5%.

"By teaming with HNC, we will help our customers increase the number of good accounts they book," said James J. Allhusen, executive vice president of Equifax. The product will also "help legitimate consumers avoid the traumatic consequences of identity theft," he said.

Gemini Verify Score is to become available in the second quarter.

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