The Fair Isaac Corporation reported on Monday that a close read of credit scores over the last six years reveal interesting trends in consumer behavior and credit risk. The shifts in credit risk can be expected to last for years to come.
The Fair Isaac Corporation, better known as FICO, determines the consumer credit scores that are the industry standard for calculating risk. In a recent blog post, FICO noted that by analyzing their own score data from 2005 until the present yields some interesting results. FICO, whose scores range from 300 at the low end to 850 at the high end, noticed two significant shifts in score distribution since the recession.
Recessions Bring Scores to the Edges
In the early days of the recession, FICO saw that the edges of the scoring range — the 300-499 range and the 800-850 range — saw the most rapid growth. FICO writes that this is to be expected in a massive market downturn.
Those who had too much debt eventually declare bankruptcy, moving them to the lower end of the credit score spectrum; those who are more responsible with their finances will lower their spending so that they may pay down some more existing debt, moving themselves up the credit score ladder by doing so. In 2005 16.9% of Americans were in the upper range (800-850) and in 2008 18.7% were; he lowest cohort (300-499) accounted for 6.6% of the population in 2005 and inched up to 7.2% by 2008.
Since then, these two numbers have leveled out to 6.3% for the lowest range and 18.1% for the highest. Even though the lowest range has shrunk since 2008, the percentage share of all sub-600 scores has risen. In 2005, 23.6% of Americans had a sub-600 credit score — a mediocre credit score by most standards. In 2011, that number has crept up to 24.9%. The overall trend has been growth in the lower scores, and shrinkage in the upper scores, with the highest (800-850) being the only exception.
It Could Take Years to Normalize
The FICO post explains that massive delinquencies like foreclosures take anywhere from three to seven years to sort out, credit score-wise. Until then, the risk landscape has shifted significantly for ordinary Americans and lenders, both. With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau debuting this year, we could very well see even more changes to how credit is issued in the country.
Read More: FICO: Scores Shift During Recession