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Credit-Rating Factors May Be Changing; How Will You Fare?

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Pile of cash (CBS)

Pile of cash (CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about how to improve your credit score, some credit bureaus are changing the rules.

As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, that’s good news for some, not so good news for others.

Mortgages, credit cards, car loan payments — these are the traditional bills credit bureaus consider when calculating a consumer’s credit score.

But tradition is being challenged. Some credit score agencies are now looking at alternative information.

“They look at things like your rent payment history. They’ll look at things like how well you’ve paid your cell phone or your utilities,” says Kenneth Lin, CEO of Creditkarma.com.

Creditkarma is a company that offers free credit scores. Lin says some bureaus also look at whether you’ve paid your furniture rental bill on time or took out a payday loan.

“And they’ll create a credit score based off of that to determine your risk profile,” he says.

Many consumers are open to the idea.

“I think it makes sense, given how our economy is changing. You have to look at more factors as to whether a person’s creditworthy, besides the traditional factors,” Jason Orth says.

A company called CoreLogic is the latest to use “alternative information.” It’s a formula that can affect any consumer, but certain people benefit the most.

“Borrowers who would typically have insufficient credit history in traditional credit reports could now have new opportunities,” the company says.

Lin says those borrowers include immigrants, young adults and people who rely on cash.

“They pay their bills on time. They pay their rent on time. But if you go to the credit bureau they’ll actually have no credit file,” he says.

But consumer advocate Chi Chi Wu of the National Law Center sees a downside. She’s concerned that people who have legitimate reasons for not paying certain bills, like rent, could be penalized.

“If there are mice running around, if you don’t have any hot water, you’re allowed to not pay your rent, under some jurisdictions. Is the new credit report going to reflect that?” she asks.

According to experts, the credit reporting agencies may soon include anything you post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn about your financial or job situation.

It’s just being talked about now. But in the future, who knows?

Here are traditional credit-rating agencies:

Myfico

TransUnion

Equifax

Experian

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