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Cityscape: Volume 18 Number 2 | Credit Invisibles and the Unscored


Borrower Beware

Volume 18, Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Credit Invisibles and the Unscored

Kenneth P. Brevoort
Philipp Grimm
Michelle Kambara
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions or policies of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the U.S. government.

Having a credit record and a credit score can be an important determinant of credit access. Surprisingly little is known, however, about people who lack credit records or scores. This article 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. We find that 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. In addition, 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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