The research found that about 26 million American adults have no histories with national credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. In addition to those so-called credit invisibles, an additional 19 million have credit reports that are so limited or out of date that they are unscorable. In other words, 45 million American consumers are living without credit scores.
Blacks and Hispanics were significantly more likely to be without a credit score, the study found, with a 15 percent rate of credit invisibility, compared to 9 percent for whites. Having a low income was another major predictor of whether someone had a credit score: census tract data showed that nearly 30 percent of consumers in low-income neighborhoods were credit invisible and another 15 percent had credit records that could not be scored. In upper-income neighborhoods, just 4 percent of consumers were credit invisible and an additional 5 percent were unscorable.
"When consumers do not have a credit report, or have too little information to have a credit score, the impact on their lives can be profound," said Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB, in a call announcing the study. "And given that we found that consumers in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be credit invisible or unscored, this may be limiting opportunities for some of the most economically vulnerable consumers."