Credit Invisibles and the Unscored

Office of Research Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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Date Published 2016
Primary Author Kenneth P. Brevoort, Philipp Grimm, and Michelle Kambara
Other Authors
Theme Loan Origination, Servicing Foreclosure and Forbearance


Having a credit record and a credit score can be an important determinant of credit access. Yet, surprisingly little is known about people who lack credit records or scores. This paper provides the first documented analysis of the characteristics of consumers without credit records, called “credit invisibles,” and of consumers whose records are treated as “unscorable” by a widely used credit-scoring model. Our estimates suggest that 26 million adults, representing about 11 percent of the adult population, lack credit records. An additional 8.3 percent, or 19.6 million adults have credit records that are unscored. The incidence of having a credit record is not evenly distributed. Young, elderly, minority, and lower-income consumers are more likely to be credit invisible or have an unscored record. Additionally, our analysis finds that observable credit performance is not widely available for such consumers, which may hinder the ability of alternative data to expand credit access for these consumers.

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