More than a number, FICO scores put customers in control
Two million customers have viewed their FICO score (and related credit tips) since Wells Fargo began offering the free program in March.
Nearly every day for three months, Mark Valencia kept tabs on his FICO® Score. He paid off a few lingering bills, made sure to pay his credit card account on time among other things, and confirmed his credit report was accurate. Eventually, his credit score soared 100 points — and now he’s on the verge of buying a new home.
“It feels great,” says Mark, a small business owner and Wells Fargo customer in Lubbock, Texas. “I got some good guidance from Wells Fargo and used it and could see the results as my credit score got better. Overall, it really made me feel like I am in control.”
He is among 2 million mobile banking customers who have viewed their FICO Score since Wells Fargo launched the free FICO Score program to its eligible consumer credit customers earlier this year.
The company introduced the program, along with Wells Fargo personalized credit tips, to credit card customers in March; customers of auto loans, private student loans, home equity lines of credit, and personal loans/lines of credit in May; and home mortgage customers in June. It will be available to all eligible customers who are desktop users later this year.1
Wells Fargo is providing information about credit that customers “can use to take charge of their financial health.”
About 30 million eligible customers now have access to the program, representing most of Wells Fargo’s consumer credit customers. So far, the results have been compelling, says Shelley Freeman, head of Wells Fargo Consumer Credit Solutions.
“Nearly half of those who are looking at their FICO Scores through this program tell us they have taken action as a result of the information,” she says. “That tells us we’re giving them more than just a number. We’re giving them the information about credit they can use to take charge of their financial health.”
Moving the needle
Although many large financial institutions now offer some customers free access to their credit scores, Wells Fargo’s program is one of the most extensive in terms of the number of customers it reaches, says John Ulzheimer, a national consumer credit expert who formerly worked for FICO, Equifax, and Credit.com.
“Adding Wells Fargo to the FICO Open Access program,” he says, “is a needle-moving event in terms of expanding the number of people who have access to their credit score information.”
Viewing his FICO Score regularly made a big difference for Mark, says his personal banker, Pedro Montano of Wells Fargo in Lubbock. Pedro says he started working with Mark last year to help him potentially improve his credit by establishing a secured personal loan, secured credit card, and a timely payment history.
As Mark’s credit score improved, he started accessing it in March when Wells Fargo launched the free program, Pedro says. One day, however, Mark checked and found his score had fallen 90 points. When he got a copy of his credit report, he discovered some old medical bills that he had paid were mistakenly shown as outstanding.
“He was able to have all those old bills removed from his credit report,” Pedro says, “and his credit score went back up. Now he’s in the last stages of buying a new home, something he wouldn’t have been able to do without watching and educating himself on his credit score.”
Holly Townsley, manager of the Wells Fargo store in Lubbock, says Mark’s situation shows how the free access to FICO Scores has helped empower customers with knowledge: “It really has made a difference,” she says. “Every time Mark comes in to the bank these days, he shows us photos of the house they’re getting and talks about how exciting it is for his family. It is gratifying for us to have played a part in that.”
1You must be an account holder of a Wells Fargo consumer credit product with a FICO® Score on record. Your mobile carrier’s rates may apply. Note: While FICO Scores are very important, Wells Fargo considers a number of factors in the credit approval process. FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.