FICO score gains clout in rental market

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Q: I recently moved here from abroad and was turned down for a rental because I have no FICO score. What is a FICO score, and how do I improve it? A: The FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac Corp. in 1989, and rates the credit worthiness of the applicant. Generally, a FICO score falls between 300 and 850. A score below 600 indicates a bad credit risk, while a score above 700 is considered good credit. Until recently, FICO scores didn't even appear on most rental credit reports. Instead, a list of the applicant's credit activity was provided, which wasn't easy for some landlords to read and evaluate. Now that FICO scores are reported to landlords, renters may be concerned they are being evaluated based on a single number. Why does a FICO score matter? The score, calculated using a complex statistical model, is the grown-up version of a report card. The higher the grade, the better your credit risk looks to lenders. To have a low FICO score could indicate failure to make the grade a...