The efficacy of a social media message

The message below followed an exchange in social media.  Some of the links in the message use the nofollow link attribute.

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Friday, January 04, 2013 2:10 PM
To: Jim Robertson, managing editor, Columbia Daily Tribune
Cc: Henry J. Waters III, editor & publisher emeritus, Columbia Daily Tribune; Vicki Russell, publisher, Columbia Daily Tribune
Subject: The efficacy of a social media message

Your correction states that your writer’s column “incorrectly implied employers access applicants’ credit scores.”

However, the item still states: “Credit scores are one of life’s most important benchmarks. They help qualify your financial picture for a financial institution, an employer or an insurance company.”

What did your editor do to this piece before it was published?

Who reviewed it after I contacted you?

Could we agree on a definition of implied?


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

848 credit score disclosure

Here is a message from a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who claims that the newspaper’s story about a person with an 848 credit score is accurate.  However, based on the message, the story appears to be inaccurate.

Twitter message:  848 credit score disclosure was from Bank of America

What you won't see on Twitter

The article states that a credit score disclosure–with nonsense about a person’s 848 credit score being higher than itself–was provided by a credit bureau.  But, the message above indicates that the disclosure came from a credit card issuer.

 

Wall Street Journal removed comments

[continued from creditscoring.com.  Last email (to Rupert Murdoch):  “… what are you doing about my comments that you removed?”]


From: Blumenthal, Karen
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2012 1:41 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com; Henderson, Julie ( Newscorp )
Subject: RE: credit score, Credit utilization, Wall Street Journal, 2012-12-01

Greg,

I appreciate the feedback.

I have written several times about credit scores and in some of those stories, i have gone into more detail about the “amounts owed” category. In fact, as I’m sure you know, all of the FICO categories have several factors in them.

In this case, however, the focus was on the traits of high scorers, not the broad components of the credit scores. I have only 800 words a column, sometimes less, and a lot of ground to cover, so I cannot cover every detail every time, as much as I would like to. My goal here was simply to underscore that credit use, or amounts owed, come into play in a more significant way than, say, credit history and that the 7% use number was rather surprising.

To answer your question about the use of available credit, one-third or 30% are common rules of thumb offered by those in the business as a guide for consumers who want to know where the broad cut-off lines are. Changing your credit use is one of the fastest and easiest ways to impact a credit score quickly–especially when compared with credit history or missed payments–and i think it’s important to share that with readers.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

best,

Karen


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2012 2:58 PM
To: Karen Blumenthal, columnist, Getting Going, Wall Street Journal, News Corporation
Subject: RE: credit score, Credit utilization, Wall Street Journal, 2012-12-01 II

It is a math error.

Since it is only part of the 30 percent “Amounts owed” category, then how can “Credit utilization” account for—as you claim—30 percent of the calculation?

The sum of the other items in the category does not equal zero.


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Edit, December 14, 2012:  Fair Isaac invalidated the link from the words “Credit utilization” above by removing the page that was located at the internet address http://www.scoreinfo.org/FICO-Scores/Score-Ingredients.aspx. The same information about the so-called credit utilization is now at http://www.scoreinfo.org/FICO-Scores/Pages/Score-Ingredients.aspx.

CompareCards.com expert asks to be interviewed again

Previous correspondence with CompareCards.com

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:58 AM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, myths

See http://www.pagea2.com/?p=390.

One of your videos, “CREDIT SCORES 101,” states, “Today, credit scores play a part in everything from getting a home, owning a car, to getting a job.”

Born of three years of following that myth, Page A2 is about misinformation, its consequences, and how media deal with correcting and counteracting it.

There is no evidence to support either of your claims.  Over two months ago, you said that you would make a correction to one of them, but you did not.  What happened?

My name is not Gregg.


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

From: Chris Mettler
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 11:33 AM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Re: Interview Inquiry, insight

We still doing an interview?

From: Chris Mettler
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 5:03 PM
To: Greg Fisher
Cc: Chrissy Bunkley, marketing & communications Specialist, CompareCards.com
Subject: Re: Interview Inquiry, insight

Hey Gregg-

Thanks for your question … I’ll just respond with what I believe I know …

When I made the below statement, I’m making an assumption that credit scorers don’t like to really see balance carry of above 30% in a given month. Obviously, the higher this number, the more chance of a lower credit score. I used 30% as a good threshold to stay under.

So, assuming that about 30% of your overall credit score is based on “Balances or Amount Owed”, I would estimate that 10% of the 30% number is attributed to the number of accounts with balances. Multiple revolving accounts with balances might signal that someone makes purchases beyond their means if they can’t pay this off each month.

Also, my wife grew up in Oakwood and loves Dayton – a throwback spot in this country – go Flyers!

Chris

From: Greg Fisher
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 12:25 PM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Cc: Chrissy Bunkley, marketing & communications Specialist, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, insight

You wrote: “The overall score is tabulated using several different categories of information that are each weighted depending upon their financial importance to lenders. Some account for 15 percent of your score, for instance, while other categories of your credit performance are worth more than that. Once of the biggies is the amount[SIC] owed, or in other words how much debt you are carrying compared to how much credit you have offered to you. According to Fair Isaac, credit utilization is a key factor in the amount[SIC] owed category – and that category makes up 30 percent of your score.”

If “amount[SIC] owed, or in other words how much debt you are carrying compared to how much credit you have offered to you” “and that category makes up 30 percent of your score,” then what percentage is made up by the Number of accounts with balances?


Greg Fisher
Page A
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

From: Chrissy Bunkley
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 4:04 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: Interview Inquiry

Hi Greg,

I’m reading over the Credit Score blog and notice that you feature a wide variety of topics on all things credit score and finance. I hope you don’t mind that I am using the email address that I found from one of your previous posts in where you personally contacted Rubert Murdoch and called him out for misreports of credit scores and job candidacy.  You’ve got some guts and I like it!

Let me back up, I’m Chrissy from CompareCards.com, an online credit card comparison website.  I’m writing to you because I’d like to offer you the opportunity to interview our founder and CEO, Chris Mettler.  Chris has been educating consumers on credit card trends since 2005.  His wealth of knowledge in financial responsibility is both informative and actionable for consumers and entrepreneurs alike.

Chris has been featured and interviewed in a number of news outlets, which you can find here: http://www.comparecards.com/in-the-news

If you are interested in this idea, I can connect you with Chris directly, who would be happy to share his insight with your readership.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to hear more about this opportunity.

Best,
Chrissy

———-

Chrissy Bunkley
Marketing & Communications Specialist
www.comparecards.com

CompareCards.com did not make the correction

Subsequent message from Comparecards.com

From: Chris Mettler
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 10:21 AM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Re: Interview Inquiry, insight, key factor III

Sure

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012 2:32 PM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, insight, key factor III

Will you make a correction?

From: Chris Mettler
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012 1:20 PM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Re: Interview Inquiry, insight, key factor II

I don’t know anyone at Fair Isaac that said credit utilization was a key factor in the amounts owed category, but it has been assumed from many sources that this is a key factor in determining an individuals credit score. I believe this assumption to be correct given that a high credit utilization (or someone with multiple credit accounts with high credit utilization) would infer to a potential creditor that someone has a higher probability of living beyond their current income target – hence a riskier credit profile.

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012 12:06 PM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, insight, key factor II

Who at Fair Isaac said—or where did the company state in writing—that credit utilization is a key factor in the Amounts Owed category?

From: Chris Mettler
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012 11:18 AM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Re: Interview Inquiry, short

Nope, just didn’t no where we were headed with this … I understand this now …

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 5:10 PM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, short

You only (sort of?) answered two questions.

Is the interview over?

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 9:31 AM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, insight, nearly

Fair Isaac has revealed some things about the so-called “credit utilization” ratio, but not what you claim.  When the company explains FICO scoring to a general audience, it applies general weights to major data categories such as, “Amounts Owed is 30 percent of a typical consumer’s score.”  It doesn’t break that weighting into finer parts for individual factors, both to avoid unintentionally misleading the public and to protect the model’s proprietary information.

However, recently, one outlet claimed that Fair Isaac said, “The credit utilization ratio is nearly 30% of a person’s credit score.”

Similarly, you made a statement regarding the importance of a factor, and attribute the information in it to Fair Isaac.  You appear to have knowledge of a statement by the keeper of the secret credit score formula that further defines it.

From: Chris Mettler
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 1:14 PM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Re: Interview Inquiry, insight, key factor

Not sure where all this is going

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 1:00 PM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, insight, key factor

Who at Fair Isaac said—or where did the company state in writing—that credit utilization is a key factor in the Amounts Owed category?

From: Chris Mettler
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 10:58 AM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Re: Interview Inquiry, insight, 15 percent category

Length of Credit Score?

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 5:22 PM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, insight, 15 percent category

What is the name of another category that accounts for 15 percent of a FICO score?

From: Chris Mettler
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 5:03 PM
To: Greg Fisher
Cc: Chrissy Bunkley, marketing & communications Specialist, CompareCards.com
Subject: Re: Interview Inquiry, insight

Hey Gregg-

Thanks for your question … I’ll just respond with what I believe I know …

When I made the below statement, I’m making an assumption that credit scorers don’t like to really see balance carry of above 30% in a given month. Obviously, the higher this number, the more chance of a lower credit score. I used 30% as a good threshold to stay under.

So, assuming that about 30% of your overall credit score is based on “Balances or Amount Owed”, I would estimate that 10% of the 30% number is attributed to the number of accounts with balances. Multiple revolving accounts with balances might signal that someone makes purchases beyond their means if they can’t pay this off each month.

Also, my wife grew up in Oakwood and loves Dayton – a throwback spot in this country – go Flyers!

Chris

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 12:25 PM
To: Chris Mettler, founder and CEO, CompareCards.com
Cc: Chrissy Bunkley, marketing & communications Specialist, CompareCards.com
Subject: RE: Interview Inquiry, insight

You wrote: “The overall score is tabulated using several different categories of information that are each weighted depending upon their financial importance to lenders. Some account for 15 percent of your score, for instance, while other categories of your credit performance are worth more than that. Once of the biggies is the amount[SIC] owed, or in other words how much debt you are carrying compared to how much credit you have offered to you. According to Fair Isaac, credit utilization is a key factor in the amount[SIC] owed category – and that category makes up 30 percent of your score.”

If “amount[SIC] owed, or in other words how much debt you are carrying compared to how much credit you have offered to you” “and that category makes up 30 percent of your score,” then what percentage is made up by the Number of accounts with balances?


Greg Fisher
Page A
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

From: Chrissy Bunkley
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 4:04 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: Interview Inquiry

Hi Greg,

I’m reading over the Credit Score blog and notice that you feature a wide variety of topics on all things credit score and finance. I hope you don’t mind that I am using the email address that I found from one of your previous posts in where you personally contacted Rubert Murdoch and called him out for misreports of credit scores and job candidacy.  You’ve got some guts and I like it!

Let me back up, I’m Chrissy from CompareCards.com, an online credit card comparison website.  I’m writing to you because I’d like to offer you the opportunity to interview our founder and CEO, Chris Mettler.  Chris has been educating consumers on credit card trends since 2005.  His wealth of knowledge in financial responsibility is both informative and actionable for consumers and entrepreneurs alike.

Chris has been featured and interviewed in a number of news outlets, which you can find here: http://www.comparecards.com/in-the-news

If you are interested in this idea, I can connect you with Chris directly, who would be happy to share his insight with your readership.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to hear more about this opportunity.

Best,
Chrissy

———-

Chrissy Bunkley
Marketing & Communications Specialist
www.comparecards.com

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette corrections page blank, Block Communications

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 9:16 AM
To: Allan Block, chairman, Block Communications (via K. Franck); John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Cc: Heather Murray, manager, Education and Resource Development, Advantage Credit Counseling Service, Inc.; Susan Keating, president & CEO, National Foundation for Credit Counseling; Tim Grant, reporter, personal finance, housing and banking, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Subject: credit score, inquiries, Block Communications, Advantage Credit Counseling Service (dba Consumer Credit Counseling Service)

See this message and your response at http://pagea2.com/pittsburgh-post-gazette-corrections-page-blank-block-communications/.

You published

Also, be aware that the employer must have your written authorization to check your credit report prior to doing so. You can refuse the credit check, but it’s likely you will be ruled out as a candidate for the position. The credit check also will show up as a hard inquiry on your credit report, which may have a slight impact on your credit score.

In the comment section of the article, Chuck Burnett of www.creditreporting.com points out, correctly, that credit report inquiries made by employers do not affect credit scores.

Who is your source?

On your corrections and clarifications page, you state: “Corrections and clarifications of work published on post-gazette.com can be found posted to the bottom of the stories. The text of those corrections and clarifications will also be displayed here for several days for reader convenience.”

The space below that passage is blank.


Greg Fisher
Page A
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 


From: Greg Fisher
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 6:36 PM
To: Tim Grant, reporter, personal finance, housing and banking, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, anonymity

Please answer the question.  Or, do you intend to use anonymous sources?


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 


From: Tim Grant
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 4:52 PM
To: greg@creditscoring.com
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Greg — Sorry for the very delayed response, but I’m been swamped with urgent assignments and projects. From what I understand based on the research I’ve done, a bankruptcy or a very low credit score can impact a person’s security clearance for certain government jobs. Tim

Tim Grant
Staff Writer
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(412) [phone] (work)
(412) [fax] (fax)
[email address]
http://www.post-gazette.com

 


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2011 11:03 AM
To: Tim Grant
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Regarding a citizen’s credit score, you wrote, “It affects every area of personal finances as far as the interest rates paid on loans, premiums for insurance and in some cases whether or not someone qualifies to work in certain career fields.”

Who is your source regarding credit score use by employers?


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 

Chicago Tribune’s uncorrected errors

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2012 1:38 PM
To: Sam Zell, Tribune Company; Sam Zell, Tribune Company (alt); Corrections desk, Chicago Tribune
Cc: Jane Hirt, vice president, managing editor, Chicago Tribune; CTC-YourMoney; Margaret Holt, standards editor, Chicago Tribune; Anthony Sprauve, US Consumer / FICO Score Public Relations, Fair Isaac; Craig Watts, Fair Isaac; Northwest Chicago Film Society; Nina Metz, reporter, film, TV and theater, Chicago Tribune; Daniel Bortz, reporter/editor, Personal Finance, U.S. News & World Report; Mortimer B. Zuckerman, chairman, Executive Committee, editor-in-chief, U.S. News & World Report (via Liz Putze); Julie Diop; Ilyce Glink; Luke Knowles, FreeShipping.org; Kate Forgach, blogger, FreeShipping.org; Felix Salmon, blogger, Reuters; Katie Leslie, reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Marcus K. Garner, reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Jane Scholz, editor, McClatchy Tribune Information Services ; Gary B. Pruitt, chairman, president and CEO, McClatchy Company (via E. Lintecum); Gerould W. Kern, senior vice-president and editor, Chicago Tribune
Subject: RE: credit score, utilization ratio, Chicago Tribune II, You can’t have it both ways

Not so fast, Mr. Zell.

The numbers you use for credibility are also your downfall.  While you may be satisfied with the column, you did not say that it is accurate.  Who was your source for that part of the column?

Now, here is the big question:  If 30 percent of the FICO score depends on the so-called credit utilization ratio (an inaccurate notion), then what percentage depends on the Number of accounts with balances?

A long time ago, I spent a year dealing with that issue and I am sure that the percentage is a positive number.  According to your logic, however, it is zero.

Same for Amount owing on specific types of accounts.

Same for Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases.

Same for Amount owing on accounts.

So, your response fails to address a simple math problem.  The ratio accounts for something less than 30 percent of the score, so your statement is incorrect.

The impossibility of your utilization ratio claim notwithstanding, perhaps you could discuss with Fair Isaac (to whom you refer as FICO) your multiple inaccurate articles about employers using credit scores.  The company has no expertise on the matter (since, to my knowledge, it does not sell consumer reports to anybody but consumers), however, it has significant influence over media.  Fair Isaac certainly has Reuters snowed.  Asked to explain its public statement about pre-employment screening, Fair Isaac replied, “The mention you cited from the myFICO video clip was based on anecdotal information gleaned from public sources such as published articles.”

Perhaps they got it from you.  Years after the FICO score company stated that employers use credit scores, that claim—based on a silly rumor—has been debunked.  But it lives on at the Chicago Tribune.

In one place you published, “Because employers and landlords have access to the scores, it can determine who gets an apartment or even a job.”

On the contrary, in another place, you published: “Similar to the reports that a consumer can obtain for free each year through credit-reporting agencies, employers receive a report that lists debt. The reports do not, however, give an applicant’s credit score.”

Yet, in another place, you published, “When you decide to purchase a car or house, or even rent an apartment or apply for a job, your credit score matters.”

Consumer reporting agency Experian states: “Employers never get a credit score. Unfortunately, that is a very common misperception.”

There are other examples.  In one, a columnist made an honorable correction in a subsequent column (dated Independence Day, no less), but it doesn’t seem to have hit da Trib (the date of the correction ironic in light of your abuse of our First Amendment rights).

Who are your sources?

Based on information that you continue to maintain on your website, I might have caught one of the few trains that go through Ohio (and in the middle of the night) to Chicago to see the film “The Halliday Brand” only to find that tonight’s screening had been canceled.

You published your correction on another page.

What is your correction policy?

Consider the citizens.


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 

 

From: CTC-YourMoney [mailto:YourMoney@tribune.com]
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2012 5:04 PM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: RE: credit score, utilization ratio, Chicago Tribune II

Dear Mr. Fisher:

After discussing your concerns with FICO, we’re satisfied with Carolyn Bigda’s column. Thank you for writing.

Kind regards,

Pete Reinwald
Content editor
Consumer finance
Chicago Tribune
Tribune Newspapers

[previous email]

 

Credit score viral rumor published by Tribune furthered by credit score company, itself

[next email]

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2012 11:33 AM
To: Sam Zell, Tribune Company; Sam Zell, Tribune Company (alt)
Cc: László Hajmási, DailyRumor.org; Barry Paperno, FICO; Craig Watts, Fair Isaac; John Ulzheimer, The Ulzheimer Group; Jane Hirt, vice president, managing editor, Chicago Tribune; Gary Weitman, SVP, corporate relations, Tribune Company; Elliot Raphaelson, columnist, Tribune Media Services, Tribune Company; Carolyn Bigda, columnist, Chicago Tribune; Gerould W. Kern, senior vice-president and editor, Chicago Tribune
Subject: RE: credit score, utilization ratio, Chicago Tribune II

Credit score expert John Ulzheimer calls the overstatement of the importance of credit utilization ratio a myth.  Now there is a copy of your inaccurate article on—get this—DailyRumor.org.

Oh, the irony.

And, there is even a link to your piece on the myFICO Facebook page.

Oh, the ultimate irony.


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 3:57 PM
To: Carolyn Bigda, columnist, Chicago Tribune
Subject: credit score, utilization ratio, Chicago Tribune

In error, you wrote, “Sixty-five percent of your score depends on just two things — your payment history and the amount you borrow compared with the total credit available to you (what’s known as a credit utilization ratio).”

That may be what Wikipedia says, but you are incorrect.  See http://www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/WhatsInYourScore.aspx.  The proportions of credit lines used and installment loan amounts still owing are only two of 6 items in the category that makes up 30 percent of the score.  Indeed, the number of accounts with balances is in that category, but has nothing to do with any ratio.

Where will the correction appear?


Greg Fisher
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342