Computerized credit scoring has evolved since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac endorsed it in 1995.

Scoring was first used to evaluate loan applications. But Ken Palla of Fair, Isaac & Co. said automated mortgage lending has extended the use of its scores.

Lenders now use them "across the entire life of a loan," said Mr. Palla, who is manager of mortgage initiatives for the credit scoring pioneer.

And additional uses may be around the corner, Mr. Palla said, since some lenders are thinking about offering conforming loans at prices based on risk.

"With that move, there will be issues of fair-lending," Mr. Palla said.

Because Fair, Isaac scores are independently produced, he said, "I think they will be a key factor in risk-based pricing and its automation."

Opponents of the credit scoring have long claimed it may slight potential borrowers with short credit histories. To address such concerns, Fair, Isaac has teamed up with Deluxe Corp. to develop a debit bureau by late 1999.

Debit scoring would measure the frequency of check orders, fraudulent check writing, and account opening and closing histories. The debit data base would be focused on younger, single people who have lower incomes and rent rather than own homes.

Beverly Bergstrom, a Deluxe Corp. spokeswoman, said no loan products use debit history to assess credit risk.

"A lot of people may not have credit cards or credit history, so a debit history would show how well you manage your account," Ms. Bergstrom said. "Now banks and retailers have another dimension to consider when making credit-related decisions."

She said the debit data base scores would be based on both debit and credit data.

"We would look at the number of bad checks a person had written, see if they had any bank closures because of insufficient funds, check if they had delinquent credit card balances, and look at their total balance of debt," Ms. Bergstrom said.

Roger Smith, senior vice president and director of mortgage sales for Compass Bank in Birmingham, Ala., said credit scoring has enabled lenders to process loans faster and with less documentation.

Underwriters using credit scoring "do not have to look at every file as closely if it receives a passing score," Mr. Smith said. In the future, he added, scoring and new technology will let them process mortgages even faster.

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