Fitch Inc. said Monday that it has become the first rating agency to offer the ability to use credit scores produced with VantageScore Solutions LLC's model in its ratings methodology.

VantageScore, a Stamford, Conn., joint venture of the three major credit reporting bureaus — Equifax Inc., Experian Information Solutions Inc., and TransUnion LLC — was launched in March 2006 to compete against Fair Isaac Corp.'s dominant FICO score.

Fitch said VantageScore has been "fully incorporated" into its "flagship" credit risk model for individual mortgages and pools of mortgages.

The mortgage crisis has "underscored the need for an improved generic consumer scoring model against which mortgage lenders can more reliably make their loans," Huxley Somerville, the head of Fitch's residential mortgage bond group, said in a press release.

Fair Isaac filed an antitrust lawsuit against VantageScore and the three bureaus in October 2006. In June, Fair Isaac announced that it had agreed to discharge its claims against Equifax, and that the two companies had entered a partnership to develop and market scoring products, including an accelerated rollout of a new version of the FICO model.

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