Let me gaze into my crystal ball

Imagine a system whereby people are graded (or “rated”) as a good person who is worthy, or as a bad person who is unworthy, by a complex calculation; almost like looking into a crystal ball. Let’s further imagine that this complex calculation will take into consideration such ideas as how much money you make, when you’ve made it, where you have it, how much of it you spend and how quickly you spend it, where you work, and how long you’ve worked there. But let’s say this calculation should never take into account any life-altering moments – being suddenly laid off from a position you held for many years because the company needs to trim their budget, a mortgage foreclosure due to a recession that is almost as bad as the Great Depression, the loss of a loved one.

Let’s further speculate that this complex calculation will actually work against you and make you even more unworthy should any number of these negative life-altering moments happen, even though they are completely out of your control – like, say, an asteroid hitting the earth, or World War II.

Now, let’s also say this special, magical, and mysterious calculation (which is complex) will have the power to rule your life. Let’s say it can give you a beautiful place to live – or make you live in the street. It will have the power to heal you; or the power to let you die. This calculation will decide whether you are allowed to work, or whether you must continue to live a life of unemployment.

And while we’re getting crazy imagining things, why not add that only a select few know what this calculation is and how it works – let’s say God doesn’t even know it! Oh! And let’s pretend that the information used for this calculation – the numbers it gets to compute the final grade – are generally wrong, and the only way to change those numbers to make sure the information is correct, is to bribe the esteemed Calculators to see what the information is they’re using, then you have to answer a bunch of riddles as a method of changing the criteria to make the data less wrong so that your grade might come out a little better (and only if they’re willing).

Wow.  Sounds like a great sci-fi novel.

But let me introduce you to the reality of it. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the 3 Credit Bureaus and your FICO Score – a score that is made up of a complex calculation that only FICO knows. Even the three credit bureaus (well, the 3 major credit bureaus – there are more than that) don’t use the same calculations – not the same as FICO, and not the same as each other. So you never really know where you stand unless you pay FICO to get your true “FICO Score.”

This has to be one of the biggest (and dangerous) rip-offs of our age, because we are being governed by what our creditors are reporting to the bureaus – whether it’s correct or not. I honestly feel this world would be a different place if creditors were held responsible for the information they report. If they were fined for every wrong piece of information they send to the agencies I guarantee there would be a lot less wrong information.

That little FICO score is a lot more important than most people think. It’s not just for getting a loan from a bank, or buying a house and securing a mortgage, or buying a car. It goes well beyond buying anything!

Employers will run a credit check on possible employees to see if they’re worth hiring, and can deny you a job based on the information they find (and this is a credit check, mind you; not a background check).

A number of insurance companies will base their rates on your credit score. Those who are “more worthy” (i.e., have a higher FICO score) will pay less than those who are “unworthy” (those with a low FICO score). It doesn’t matter that the person with the lower FICO is the better, safer driver.

And forget it if you previously were always paying your rent on time at another rental – if your FICO is low, you’ll never get a place to live.

To me, these all seem so wrong. I think it’s time this either changes, or the process that’s being used needs to change. I like the idea of making the creditors liable for the information they report. After all, they don’t lose anything by reporting inaccuracies. Maybe if they did have something to lose, they’d be a lot more careful.