Equifax Inc. and Fair, Isaac & Co. have introduced an online service that makes Fico credit scores directly available to all consumers for the first time.
The product, called Score Power, costs $12.95 and is available through the Equifax Web site and another site, www.myfico.com, the companies said Monday.
Anyone who buys Score Power gets a Fico score (the number used most often by lenders to assess creditworthiness); Fair, Isaacs Fico Guide, a written analysis of the score; and Equifaxs credit profile, which contains the persons credit history data. Consumers also get access to an 800 number and e-mail support.
Both of our companies have had their own initiatives before, said Cheri St. John, general manager at Fair, Isaac. But we felt strongly that the scores needed to be accompanied by the underlying credit report information on which they were based.
The Fair, Isaac-Equifax partnership was announced in January, but the companies have been working for about a year to bring this product to market, said Mike Cummins, general manager of Equifaxs consumer division. We have the data and information; they have the scoring model and the explanation, he said.
Equifax and Fair, Isaac are collecting information about customers who buy Score Power and have retained the right to sell it to third-party marketers and other companies. But customers can choose not to participate in the data collection program. We wanted to make sure that we kept our options open, Mr. Cummins said. If the consumer opts out, fine.
The venture comes in a period of intense legislative pressure to make lending information more transparent. In the past year, smaller Internet-based companies have taken advantage of consumer demand to peddle their own credit scoring products. Mr. Cummins said it is important for Equifax to get into the ring.
In many cases, these companies are offering the data thats being provided by Equifax or some other credit bureau, so they are giving out legitimate credit reports, he said. But in terms of the scoring, none of them provide the Fico score. These other scores who knows what validity they may have?
Ms. St. John said the deal gives Equifax the right to deliver Fico scores first but not the exclusive right to distribute them. Fair, Isaac, she said, has no immediate plan for agreements with the two other big credit bureaus, Trans Union LLC and Experian Information Solutions Inc., each of which has announced plans soon to release non-Fico, proprietary score products.
Especially in light of the fact that the other companies have announced other types of plans, we would need to work things out with them down the road, Ms. St. John said. But certainly if legislation were to require it, there would be nothing that precludes it."
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