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US Perceptions of Credit and Credit Monitoring Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Perceptions of Credit and Credit Monitoring market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this Report

This Report includes information on:

  • The state of credit reporting and credit monitoring in the US.
  • What financial institutions and other parties are doing to improve customer knowledge of, and engagement with, the credit scoring system.
  • How consumers view their own knowledge of financial concepts relating to credit scoring and credit monitoring, and what obstacles stand in the way of greater understanding.

What you need to know

The arena of credit scoring and credit monitoring is one rife with contradictions. Consumers overwhelmingly recognize the importance of building and maintaining good credit, and while most make a regular habit of checking their scores, nearly 20% of US consumers admit they never do. Credit reporting errors occur frequently, but consumers are generally powerless to prevent such mistakes, and are left to their own devices in search of a remedy. Despite myriad systemic issues, average consumer credit scores are, on the whole, improving.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Chris Shadle , a leading analyst in the Financial Services sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The arena of credit scoring and credit monitoring is one rife with contradictions. Consumers overwhelmingly recognize the importance of building and maintaining good credit, and while most make a regular habit of checking their scores, many US consumers admit they never do. Credit reporting errors occur frequently, but consumers are generally powerless to prevent such mistakes, and are left to their own devices in search of a remedy. Despite myriad systemic issues, average consumer credit scores are, on the whole, improving. Chris Shadle
Financial Services Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • The issues
            • Two thirds of consumers check their credit score more than once per year
              • Figure 1: Credit monitoring frequency, May 2018
            • More than a quarter of consumers have disputed an error on their credit report
              • Figure 2: Interest in credit services, May 2018
            • Almost half of consumers fear their credit will be impacted by identity theft
              • Figure 3: Attitudes toward credit scores, May 2018
            • The opportunities
              • Consumers feel bad credit scores are hard to rectify
                • Figure 4: Attitudes toward credit scores, May 2018
              • Young consumers more likely to use credit-building products
                • Figure 5: Interest in credit-building product, by age, May 2018
              • Consumers with five or more credit cards check scores the most
                • Figure 6: Credit monitoring frequency, by number of credit cards owned, May 2018
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • The roots of credit reporting run deep
                  • Legislative changes bring some benefits, while adding risk
                    • Average credit scores are on the rise
                      • Fraud and identity theft complaints on a slight downward trend
                      • Market Breakdown

                        • Credit reporting: a brief history
                          • Retail Credit Company, the birth of the modern credit bureau
                            • Fair Credit Reporting Act (1970)
                              • Dodd-Frank rollback offers a mixed bag for consumers
                              • Market Factors

                                • Average credit scores are on the rise
                                  • Figure 7: Average consumer credit score, October 2005-April 2017
                                • An aging America
                                  • Figure 8: US population, by age, 2015, 2020, 2025
                                • Fraud and identity theft complaints on a slight downward trend
                                  • Figure 9: Identity theft and fraud complaints, 2013-16
                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                • Equifax data breach shook the industry; provides teaching moment
                                  • Credit scoring errors are rampant
                                    • Consumers have a host of free options
                                      • Alternate credit scoring models on the horizon
                                      • What’s Struggling?

                                        • Equifax data breach exposed 143 million Americans
                                          • Figure 10: USAA email campaign, October 2017
                                        • Credit reporting errors are rampant
                                          • Figure 11: Actions taken regarding credit report, May 2018
                                      • What’s Happening?

                                        • Consumers have many free options for identity and credit monitoring services
                                          • Credit card issuers
                                            • Figure 12: Chase email, Chase Credit Journey, June 2018
                                            • Figure 13: American Express email, July 2018
                                            • Figure 14: Capital One email, June 2018
                                          • Third-party sites
                                            • Figure 15: Credit Karma email, May 2018
                                            • Figure 16: Credit Sesame online advertisement, July 2018
                                          • Governmental intervention
                                            • LifeLock’s direct mail strategy is responsive to recent data breaches
                                              • Figure 17: LifeLock direct mail volume relative to data breaches, January 2017-May 2018
                                            • Experian’s State of Credit Report seeks to educate consumers
                                            • What’s Next?

                                              • Alternate credit scoring models aim to account for “credit invisibles”
                                                • Figure 18: Affirm online advertisement, July 2018
                                              • Identity theft and credit monitoring services look to the Dark Web
                                                • Figure 19: Discover direct mail campaign, July 2018
                                                • Figure 20: LifeLock email, July 2018
                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                              • Most consumers check credit scores regularly, but many never do
                                                • Majority of consumers reported credit score increases in the past year
                                                  • Men are more likely to monitor multiple credit bureaus
                                                    • More than a quarter of consumers have disputed an error on their credit report
                                                      • Almost half of consumers fear identity theft may negatively impact their credit score
                                                      • Credit Monitoring Frequency

                                                        • Two-thirds of consumers check their credit score more than once per year
                                                          • Figure 21: Credit monitoring frequency, May 2018
                                                        • Fathers are checking their scores the most
                                                          • Figure 22: Credit monitoring frequency, by gender and parental status, May 2018
                                                        • Investable assets correlate with credit score monitoring frequency
                                                          • Figure 23: Credit monitoring frequency, by household investable assets, May 2018
                                                        • Consumers with five or more credit cards check scores the most
                                                          • Figure 24: Credit monitoring frequency, by number of credit cards owned, May 2018
                                                      • Interest in Credit Monitoring Services

                                                        • Most consumers have not paid for a full credit report
                                                          • Figure 25: Interest in paying for a credit report, by gender, May 2018
                                                        • Younger consumers are most interested in paying for credit and identity monitoring
                                                          • Figure 26: Interest in paying for identity theft monitoring, by age, May 2018
                                                        • More than a quarter of consumers have disputed an error on their credit report
                                                          • Figure 27: Interest in credit services, May 2018
                                                        • Young consumers more likely to use credit-building products
                                                          • Figure 28: Interest in credit-building product, by age, May 2018
                                                          • Figure 29: Capital One email campaign, February 2016
                                                      • Credit Monitoring Habits

                                                        • Men are more likely to check multiple credit bureaus
                                                          • Figure 30: Credit monitoring habits, by gender, May 2018
                                                        • Consumers with incomes of $50K-75K more are more proactive
                                                          • Figure 31: Credit monitoring habits, by household income, May 2018
                                                        • More than 1 in 10 consumers have actively avoided checking their score
                                                          • Figure 32: Credit monitoring habits, by age, May 2018
                                                        • Consumers with lower credit are more likely to use third-party sites
                                                          • Figure 33: Credit monitoring habits, by self-reported credit score, May 2018
                                                        • Older consumers are more likely to say they receive credit score updates from their card issuers
                                                          • Figure 34: Credit monitoring habits, by age, May 2018
                                                      • Changes in Credit Score

                                                        • Most consumers say their scores remained the same or improved a little
                                                          • Figure 35: Credit score change in past year, May 2018
                                                        • Male and Hispanic consumers more likely to report credit score improvement
                                                          • Figure 36: Credit score change in past year, by gender May 2018
                                                          • Figure 37: Credit score change in past year, by Hispanic origin, May 2018
                                                      • Attitudes toward Credit Scores

                                                        • Most consumers believe their credit score is the main predictor of obtaining credit
                                                          • Figure 38: Knowledge of credit score use, May 2018
                                                        • Most consumers want to improve their credit score
                                                          • Figure 39: Attitudes toward improving credit scores, May 2018
                                                        • Almost half of consumers fear identity theft will impact their credit
                                                          • Figure 40: Concerns about identity theft, May 2018
                                                        • Many consumers see credit scoring as an invasion of privacy
                                                          • Figure 41: Attitudes toward credit scoring fairness, by Hispanic origin, May 2018
                                                      • Perceptions of Credit Scoring

                                                        • Consumers agree on how credit scores are derived
                                                          • Figure 42: Credit scoring factors, ranked, May 2018
                                                          • Figure 43: Mint email, July 2018
                                                        • Consumers feel bad credit scores are hard to rectify
                                                          • Figure 44: Attitudes toward credit scores, May 2018
                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                        • Data sources
                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                            • Direct marketing creative
                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                  • Terms