Actor and activist Hill Harper, no stranger to offering advice on building financial security, is about to embark on a new venture with Experian to help consumers tap into some technology to instantly improve their #creditscores.
The new idea, simply put: Give us access to your banking information to prove that you're paying the electricity bill, the gas bill, the internet bill and phone bills on time. Get a better, updated credit score. Have a stronger shot at getting lower rates on loans.
"Access to credit is a big piece of being financially healthy," said Harper .
#Experian, one of the national credit bureaus, kicked off a marketing campaign called Boost America.
The strategy is to reach out to more than 100 million consumers nationwide who don't have many credit cards or loans, and, as a result, may not qualify for attractive rewards or favorable interest rates.
It's a groundbreaking effort to address financial inclusion and help consumers, including some minorities and millennials, who don't have a deep credit history and a strong mix of credit. The traditional way of doing things isn't working for many of them.
As a result, the credit industry is trying new ideas and strategies for reaching out to consumers with "lighter credit footprints" who want to borrow money for a car, open a credit card or take out a mortgage. It's an innovative approach, but consumers will need to grant permission for #ExperianBoost to connect to their online bank accounts to identify and access their utility and telecommunications payment history.
Over the next few months, Harper will address credit management via blog posts and other speaking engagements.
Consumers can visit www.experian.com/boost to sign up for a free membership. Remember, not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.
To use the service, consumers must use online banking and make the utility or telecommunications payments electronically from a checking or savings account. Thousands of banks can be easily connected. But some consumers will discover that not all credit unions or financial institutions are able to be connected at this point.
At minimum, Experian will be looking for at least three payments within six months for the same consumer and will go back two years to look at payments on utility and mobile phone bills. Experian looks at that information only, not other bank account data.
When the consumer verifies the data and confirms they want it added to their Experian credit file, an updated #FICOScore is delivered in real time. "It's literally immediate," Harper said.
"That's a real #credithistory of you paying your bills and that should be counted."