Who are these overlords? And what do they want from us? As more and more private and public entities demand to know everything about us in order to transact any business online – and more and more of these enterprises seem to store our confidential information in a sieve — credit reporting services have found a boon. These virtual detectives lurk the web to identify and notify if someone attempts to use the information to open a new credit card account or take out a loan. Good. It can be supportive to have a Big Brother watching over our shoulder in the event that a crook has breached the database of our insurer, BMV, IRS or just about anyone that transacts on the internet, and that gap allowed for the nefarious hacker to employ our information to disguise themselves obtaining fraudulent credit and otherwise spending our reputation and hard-earned money.
So, we engage FICO and scads of other players to keep an eye on us. They report when our bills are paid, what balance exists on the mortgage and with whom we took it. For some of us, the notifications come daily. With each movement in balance, we hear about it and see a corresponding up or down change in the overall credit score awarded – the one that determines our creditworthiness and access to loans at attractive interest rates. The problem is that there is no instruction book. The companies tasked with controlling our credit do not want us to know how they do it. Pay down debt and get a better score? Maybe. Live addicted to credit cards and get a worse score? Perhaps not. Is too much credit better than too little? Really? How can we play the game if they will not tell us (or know) the rules?