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Zero Credit Rating Doesn't Mean Bad Credit

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you were to do what financial advisors counsel all the time: carry no debt and pay all of your purchases in cash, you'd win the most enviable money management award. If that existed. What you wouldn't win, surprisingly, is best credit score.

Instead, on a scale of 300-850, the scoring system for the Fair Isaac Corporation, better know as FICO, where 300 is awful and 850 is nearly impossible, you'd have zero. And you wouldn't be alone - 53 million Americans have no credit score at all.

But why? You've done nothing wrong.

The problem is that the people who rank you based on your credit history, can't tell that you've done anything right, either. Because counterintuitively, the only way to get a credit score is to show that you can reliably pay down debt.

But FICO has announced that it plans to change its scoring to include things like regular payments for cell phones, utilities, and other monthly bills that are regularly paid by young consumers but haven't, until now, gone into the scoring for FICO ratings.

FICO says that the new system will give previously unscored consumers credit ratings, but consumer advocates are concerned that people who pay utility bills even a few days late may wind up with subprime scores, which is worse than no score at all.

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