Utility, Telecommunications, and Rental Data in Underwriting Credit

Research Report

Utility, Telecommunications, and Rental Data in Underwriting Credit


Proponents have been arguing for more than 20 years that utility, telecommunications, and rental (UTR) payment history can expand access to credit among historically underserved consumers without compromising sound underwriting practices or sustainable mortgage finance. Despite efforts to make such data more accessible, however, estimates are that only 2 to 5 percent of consumers who make UTR payments have that data in their credit bureau files today. With policymakers, financial services companies, and other stakeholders focusing renewed attention on UTR data, this report examines the history of efforts to tap UTR data for credit underwriting, empirical research on the effects of such data on the inclusiveness and predictiveness of credit scoring models, recent developments that are both accelerating and complicating UTR initiatives, and key market and policy issues that will determine whether such efforts can reach scale. While historical experience and current challenges suggest that UTR data is not a panacea, with thoughtful development, it has the potential to benefit a considerable number of consumers.

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