Twelve of the nation's largest credit card issuers are using alternative credit-scoring data to identify people who would otherwise not be on their radar as potential customers, Fair Isaac, also known as FICO for its trademark credit scores, said Thursday .
"The pilot program we announced today is specific to credit cards," FICO spokesperson Jeff Scott told CBS MoneyWatch. "If someone is new to credit, it's rare to take out a $200,000 mortgage."
Of the approximately 53 million Americans who don't have enough credit data to generate traditional FICO scores, about 15 million can be scored using property and public records compiled by LexisNexis and telecommunications and utility bills from Equifax, FICO said.
The pilot program should be completed in coming months, and FICO expects to make the alternative-data score available to more lenders later this year.
The alternative score will give consumers the means to get a credit card and start building a credit history that will eventually have them getting a traditional FICO score. "Think about this as an on-ramp to get into the mainstream credit system," Scott said.