Income has always been a key factor in any consumer credit report
, but up until recently lenders have been forced to rely on the consumer to self-report information.
However, following recent policy rule modifications by the Federal Reserve that allow the use of "reasonable estimates" of consumer income when making lending decisions, credit reporting agencies have developed income predictor tools. The software will evaluate different loan types, debt load, mortgage payments, opening dates and consumer payment history. The three big credit reporting agencies have all developed their own software. Equifax has its Income Predictor, Experian created Income Insight and TransUnion uses its Income Estimator. Granted, these tools can only provide a ballpark estimate of household income in $5,000 increments. Yet the Merit Credit Engine has adapted to support these systems, and will place results into a database for use on automated lending decisions, cross-selling strategies, credit card prescreening, collections and other applications. The uncertain economy has led to an increase in people checking their consumer credit reports
to ensure they have the best chance of obtaining cheap borrowing rate, according to the Daily Express. Equifax noted a 149 percent rise in file-checking this year compared to 2010.