09-Mar-2018 written by : FSI-Team
There is a lot of buzz about the credit scores today. So many advertisements in various mediums are promoting people to check for their scores. "Want to apply for a loan? Check your credit score for free"; "Do you know the interest rates are based on your score.
Check yours for free now" were among the various advertisements that prompted me to check out the score. I went and obtained my free report from one of the portals giving free reports. As per my knowledge, the bureau in India was called CIBIL but the one that I got was from another bureau. On enquiring, I found out that there are four bureaus in India.
On having been able to obtain my Equifax report where the score was 757, I wanted to check if I had the same number reflecting on CIBIL. So I pulled it out and found out the credit score to be 786. Now with the understanding that a higher score is better and the fact that all my accounts were reflecting on both the reports, why should there be any difference in score? This prompted me to obtain the other two bureau reports as well.
At times living with limited options is better than having more. I was completely puzzled to observe that my scores were different on all bureaus. It was like getting different results on a blood test from all four different labs. Confused, I called one of my banker friends to get some help and advice on what should be my course of action to address such anomaly. And following is what I found out:
While the score range is set at 300 to 900 mark in India and all the bureaus while following the same range, there may be a difference in the final scores. All the bureaus run their analytics and score the individuals on their chances to default on a new loan being extended to them. A minor change in the algorithms applied by the bureaus can ma14ke their scores vary.
The simple answer that I got from my friend was "No". It really does not matter as to what score is reflecting on which bureau. End of the day, the banks may check any one or multiple bureaus while taking an underwriting decision, end of the day the accuracy of bureau's prediction on default will help the bureaus to be in business. An individual should not get overly worried about these variations since it would not have an impact on his lending capability.
While in general a score of 750 and above is supposed to be good and anything above 800 is taken to be an excellent score, the threshold could have some variations depending upon the bureau. The threshold of 750 score from one bureau can be set at 730 by the other.
The information that one of four reports have errors and have the potential to swing the score southwards petrified me. Not worrying about the three digit score, one has to look out if all loans and credit cards are actually reflecting on the bureau and have been reported correctly. For example one has an active ICICI personal loan running and either the same is not reflecting on the report or has not been updated with the payments that have been made regularly without any default is a cause of concern. So while checking, one has to check out on the validity and accuracy of data. There might also be an instance where a credit line not even taken by one forms part of the obligations.
Without worrying about the different scores reflecting on different bureau reports, I got to know that data accuracy is what I need to be worried about. I have resolved that I would be checking on my bureau report regularly given that 25% of reports are reported to be erroneous that can lead to a low score.