You probably have a lot of numbers swimming around your head: Social Security number, ATM PIN number, your kids’ birthdays, your monthly utility bills, the score of the ball game last night, and maybe how much cash you have in your wallet.
But there are lots of other numbers you may not realize are very important to your life. In the Analytical Services division of Equifax, we spend our days evaluating consumers’ behavior based on different sets of numbers.
We look at the big picture—all mortgages, home equity loans, student loans, bank cards, and auto loans opened and outstanding in a given month—and try to find trends based on the number of accounts opened or closed, how consumers’ payment history changes, and whether their available balance has gone up or down.
Why does this matter to you? You may be able to tell me that you have a mortgage, a home equity loan, two auto loans, and a credit card you’re trying to pay off. Because I’m looking at data from all U.S. consumers with credit histories, I’m able to look at what hundreds of thousands of consumers are doing with their mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, and credit cards. By taking the raw data about every person’s credit history, loans, and payment history, we can predict a great deal about what your future financial life might hold.
My job specifically is to look at U.S. consumer credit trends, and I spend a lot of my time looking at numbers and trying to figure out what is happening in the financial services industry.
For example, in April 2008, the average delinquent U.S. credit card balance was about $3,500. In April 2010, the average delinquent credit card balance had jumped to about $4,900. These numbers tell me that American consumers are stressed. They’re using their credit cards more to try to pay for their daily expenses.
These numbers and data are very important to us, as well as to creditors, lenders, insurance companies, and employers. Companies will buy our data and try to figure out what products and services they can offer to make your life better or easier.
I’ve spent my career working in the financial services industry in various roles, including credit, risk management and even the regulatory banking side. What may look like dry, complicated numbers on paper can tell a very compelling story. I hope to use this blog to bring these numbers to life. I want to make sure you, the consumer, are not frustrated by numbers you hear in the news. I want to provide context to the financial industry news and help you understand what these statistics and numbers mean for you and your finances.
I’d love to hear from you. What questions do you have about credit histories, credit scores, financial trends, and how lenders evaluate you?
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