Issuers are tightening their credit criteria, according to Fair Isaac Corp.

For many, the mantra seems to be: less credit, less risk.

The report, released Tuesday, said that almost half of all creditors said they see approval criteria for credit becoming stricter.

In fact, during the 12 months through April, the total of new credit card accounts dropped by 17.7% from the preceding 12 months, the company said, though inquiries for new cards fell 3%.

"The economy is bumping along the bottom, it's not really surprising that lenders remain very, very cautious," said Andrew Jennings, the chief research officer and head of Fico Labs. Issuers "don't appear to be taking on new risk, and I suspect they don't fully understand the credit risk that is yet to come."

With the mid-term elections pending in November and joblessness that remains near record highs, Jennings said, credit card issuers are the most pessimistic.

Almost 85% of bankers who manage card units expect delinquencies to grow or stay flat, compared to about 15% who see delinquencies declining in the next three months, the survey said.

Available credit on all U.S. consumer credit cards fell 12.2%.

The Professional Risk Managers' International Association did the study in July, querying 235 risk professionals from financial companies of all sizes.

"There is clearly a lot of uncertainty going forward, and I think the risk management community is looking out into an uncertain future," said Robert Mark, an association board member.

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