Ron Alsbrook knew things were changing last October, when one of his longtime customers came in brandishing a pre-approved offer from Wells Fargo Bank for a $50,000 credit line.

Mr. Alsbrook, senior vice president of small-business lending at Union Planters Corp., felt he had no choice but to embrace the latest in credit scoring technology. The Memphis bank soon began mailing out letters similar to the one Wells had sent to his customer, a liquor store owner.

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