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拜登欲改变美国人的信用评分方法

拜登欲改变美国人的信用评分方法

McKenna Moore 2021年01月22日
拜登接受了一项提案,建议在美国消费者金融保护局中成立公营的信用报告机构。

如果你去问消费者权益倡导者,他们会告诉你,信贷行业什么也不干。美国三大征信机构——易速传真(Equifax)、环联(TransUnion)、益博睿(Experian)——就像黑箱,它们收集并出售消费者的有关数据,根据我们的消费行为给我们评级,却不让我们知道是怎么算的,同时还固化了种族间悬殊差距。

这就是为什么消费者权益倡导者要呼吁成立公立信用报告机构,也是美国总统乔•拜登接受了左倾智库Demos仅关此事之提案的原因。

这份提案中建议在美国消费者金融保护局(Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)中成立公营的信用报告机构,在七年之内最终取代美国现在由营利性机构把持的信用体系。根据艾米•特劳伯的提案,该机构将会以消费者需求而非收益为出发点。

“如今,仅由三大私营公司发布的信用报告问题多多:它们经常出错,因为生成信用分数的数据来源问题而遗漏很多‘无形信用’,还加剧了种族不平等的现象。”拜登的投资社区住房计划中如此写道。

信用分数几乎影响到美国人日常消费的方方面面。不如人意的信用分数会让人更难申请到车贷或房贷、开公司,甚至是找到工作。并且,信用可靠程度的决定方式很大程度上是在延续种族主义的体制与政策,它们早已荼毒了黑人、拉丁裔人和其他少数族群。“我觉得这是一个很应时的想法。”特劳伯说;她对拜登采纳她的提案表示乐观,一部分也是因为这个提案在2019年获得了伯尼•桑德斯的支持。

这将是一个很大的鼓舞,不过拜登一直夸下海口要解决种族差异悬殊和经济公平的问题,这个计划也只是蓝图的一部分。

信用分数和发布它们的公司再次制造了种族间的财富差距,巩固了导致差距的区别性政策。根据Demos的研究,在现有的体系中,信用评分和其他放贷的算法把很大比例的黑人和拉丁裔标记为风险更高的借款人。这些群体也更可能拥有“薄档”,或者叫为数不多的信用记录,许多放款人也会因此认为他们的违约风险高。

Demos在提案中说到,公营的信用登记处将开发出一套透明的算法,着眼于平等,为少数族群以合理的利率申请到贷款扫除障碍。而对于障碍之一医疗债务,Demos在报告中提出要将其从信用记录中移除。因为当人们背上医疗债务的时候,做出金钱上的决定通常不会理性地考虑到偿还能力;经常都是需要一大笔钱救急,至于数额是多少,在治疗告一段落前就连借款人也不清楚。而且在新冠疫情催生历史高失业率的背景下,如果一个国家的医保和就业在很大程度上挂钩,医疗债务自然会增长。这个不像车贷,借款人有充足的时间好好考虑要不要贷款。在这项提议成立公营信用报告机构的提案中,车贷将成为信用分数与信用可靠程度的考虑因素,但医疗债务不会包含在内。

另一项被剔除出影响消费者信用可靠程度的数据,则是无力偿还掠夺性贷款的记录。报告称,“无力偿还恶贷(比如2008年金融危机前放款机构在有色人种群体中极力推销的那些有诈的按揭贷款)并不意味着该借款人在公平的条件下也会如此处理自己的信贷。”

拜登的公营信用机构也会把一些新的数据考虑在内,比如现金流或者是交房租和水电费的记录——但前提是消费者对此要知情同意。金融科技行业已经采用了这种模式,向那些被传统银行认为失格的客户发放贷款。这也是信用局可以采纳的一个备选项,但还没有到必须的地步。

“对于让信用报告生态中的数据更准确、可靠,以便未有资格的客户能够申请到贷款的这类政策,新政府是支持的。”美国消费者数据行业协会(Consumer Data Industry Association)的会长兼总裁弗朗西斯•克雷顿如此表示,该集团支持包含三大征信机构在内的消费者信用报告公司。“消费者数据行业协会支持这样的努力,我们已经在并将继续促进政策创新,以达到那些目标。”

金融科技公司One,同时也针对中等收入家庭提供银行业务,其首席执行官布莱恩•汉密尔顿对成为话题热点的公营信用报告机构的“宗旨”是相信的,但他认为私营行业比政府更适合解决提案中说到的问题。他表示,联邦政府应该强制要求提供增加额外信用记录来源的选项,并且对确定信用可靠程度的算法和收集到的消费者数据加强监督。但鉴于传统银行、征信机构和金融科技公司已经在做这项工作,从头开始建立自己的征信机构,在汉密尔顿看来,并不是利用政府时间的最优解。

“我真的很赞成私营行业在政府的支持下按照他们自己的目标解决问题。他们在所做事情的宗旨上有正确的目标,对此我100%支持。”他说。“要推动现有的信用机构利用它们的非传统数据评分,让它们使用个人数据的用途以及分数的计算方式公开。然后再扶持这个行业。”

尽管汉密尔顿并不认为成立公营信用报告机构是解决经济不公的正确途径,但他认为联邦政府还是可以发挥很大作用。他说,除了扶持行业和加强监督外,拜登还应该在美国的金融教育上“三管齐下”,让消费者了解自己的选择,并能够比前几代人更好地运作信用体系。

与汉密尔顿不同的是,米尔兹温斯基表示,包括他自己在内的消费者权益倡导者认为,建立公营信用机构是“一个好主意”。

“这是一个已经崩溃的市场。”他说。“和信用机构打交道就像在《土拨鼠之日》(Groundhog Day)里一样,因为它们继续做着一开始就在做的事情,但它们一开始就犯了很多错误,固化了种族间的财富差距,并且拒绝把消费者当作客户,因为事实上它们的客户是企业。”

米尔兹温斯基认为,现在该将管理权交给公共部门。营利性信贷机构对投资者及其企业客户负责,但成立美国消费者金融保护局是为了把消费者放在第一位。

不过,当公营机构接手时,易速传真和益博睿会怎么样呢?这两家公司还有强劲的国际信贷业务,同时它们还在美国收集和销售数据,这项业务不会因为交接而受到阻碍。

“我不觉得那些信用机构会有什么损失。”米尔兹温斯基说。“它们仍然可以收集信息。而且仍然能够开展所有与信用报告体系无关的数据买卖活动和直销项目。所以,它们不会就此消失”

易速传真让《财富》杂志去找美国消费者数据行业协会,而益博睿和环联则没有回应众多的评论请求。

根据米尔兹温斯基和特劳伯的说法,如果真的要建立Demos提出的公营信用报告机构,那么从盈利至上转变为一个公众选项将需要七年时间,因此如有必要,这些机构会有足够的时间来调整商业模式。

但拜登是否能够做些什么仍然是未知数。佐治亚州的参议院第二轮选举将决定共和党是否在米奇•麦康奈尔的领导下守住参议院。如果麦康奈尔所在的党派从佐治亚州胜出,拜登建立公营信用机构的机会就变得渺茫,但也不致完全消失。如果民主党控制了参议院,进而控制国会和白宫,那么在拜登的任期内,建立公营信用机构的工作就很有可能早早启动。

该机构如何建立和运作尚有待商榷。在2020年的民主党大会上,民主党在其政纲中采纳了设立公共登记处的想法,但建议将它作为消费者的一种选择,而不是像Demos提案中那样,要最终取代营利性信贷行业。拜登的过渡团队没有回应就他对此的首选方法发表评论的请求,但他的过渡网站上提供了Demos提案的链接。

共和党人和民主党人都大多认为,目前的制度不够透明,许多人还认为它使不平等现象长期存在。如果国会仍然存在分歧,为建立公营信用报告机构开绿灯还是可能得到两党的支持,但消费者权益倡导者和立法者的斗争是免不了的。(财富中文网)

译者:李洙扬

如果你去问消费者权益倡导者,他们会告诉你,信贷行业什么也不干。美国三大征信机构——易速传真(Equifax)、环联(TransUnion)、益博睿(Experian)——就像黑箱,它们收集并出售消费者的有关数据,根据我们的消费行为给我们评级,却不让我们知道是怎么算的,同时还固化了种族间悬殊差距。

这就是为什么消费者权益倡导者要呼吁成立公立信用报告机构,也是美国总统乔•拜登接受了左倾智库Demos仅关此事之提案的原因。

这份提案中建议在美国消费者金融保护局(Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)中成立公营的信用报告机构,在七年之内最终取代美国现在由营利性机构把持的信用体系。根据艾米•特劳伯的提案,该机构将会以消费者需求而非收益为出发点。

“如今,仅由三大私营公司发布的信用报告问题多多:它们经常出错,因为生成信用分数的数据来源问题而遗漏很多‘无形信用’,还加剧了种族不平等的现象。”拜登的投资社区住房计划中如此写道。

信用分数几乎影响到美国人日常消费的方方面面。不如人意的信用分数会让人更难申请到车贷或房贷、开公司,甚至是找到工作。并且,信用可靠程度的决定方式很大程度上是在延续种族主义的体制与政策,它们早已荼毒了黑人、拉丁裔人和其他少数族群。“我觉得这是一个很应时的想法。”特劳伯说;她对拜登采纳她的提案表示乐观,一部分也是因为这个提案在2019年获得了伯尼•桑德斯的支持。

这将是一个很大的鼓舞,不过拜登一直夸下海口要解决种族差异悬殊和经济公平的问题,这个计划也只是蓝图的一部分。

信用分数和发布它们的公司再次制造了种族间的财富差距,巩固了导致差距的区别性政策。根据Demos的研究,在现有的体系中,信用评分和其他放贷的算法把很大比例的黑人和拉丁裔标记为风险更高的借款人。这些群体也更可能拥有“薄档”,或者叫为数不多的信用记录,许多放款人也会因此认为他们的违约风险高。

Demos在提案中说到,公营的信用登记处将开发出一套透明的算法,着眼于平等,为少数族群以合理的利率申请到贷款扫除障碍。而对于障碍之一医疗债务,Demos在报告中提出要将其从信用记录中移除。因为当人们背上医疗债务的时候,做出金钱上的决定通常不会理性地考虑到偿还能力;经常都是需要一大笔钱救急,至于数额是多少,在治疗告一段落前就连借款人也不清楚。而且在新冠疫情催生历史高失业率的背景下,如果一个国家的医保和就业在很大程度上挂钩,医疗债务自然会增长。这个不像车贷,借款人有充足的时间好好考虑要不要贷款。在这项提议成立公营信用报告机构的提案中,车贷将成为信用分数与信用可靠程度的考虑因素,但医疗债务不会包含在内。

另一项被剔除出影响消费者信用可靠程度的数据,则是无力偿还掠夺性贷款的记录。报告称,“无力偿还恶贷(比如2008年金融危机前放款机构在有色人种群体中极力推销的那些有诈的按揭贷款)并不意味着该借款人在公平的条件下也会如此处理自己的信贷。”

拜登的公营信用机构也会把一些新的数据考虑在内,比如现金流或者是交房租和水电费的记录——但前提是消费者对此要知情同意。金融科技行业已经采用了这种模式,向那些被传统银行认为失格的客户发放贷款。这也是信用局可以采纳的一个备选项,但还没有到必须的地步。

“对于让信用报告生态中的数据更准确、可靠,以便未有资格的客户能够申请到贷款的这类政策,新政府是支持的。”美国消费者数据行业协会(Consumer Data Industry Association)的会长兼总裁弗朗西斯•克雷顿如此表示,该集团支持包含三大征信机构在内的消费者信用报告公司。“消费者数据行业协会支持这样的努力,我们已经在并将继续促进政策创新,以达到那些目标。”

金融科技公司One,同时也针对中等收入家庭提供银行业务,其首席执行官布莱恩•汉密尔顿对成为话题热点的公营信用报告机构的“宗旨”是相信的,但他认为私营行业比政府更适合解决提案中说到的问题。他表示,联邦政府应该强制要求提供增加额外信用记录来源的选项,并且对确定信用可靠程度的算法和收集到的消费者数据加强监督。但鉴于传统银行、征信机构和金融科技公司已经在做这项工作,从头开始建立自己的征信机构,在汉密尔顿看来,并不是利用政府时间的最优解。

“我真的很赞成私营行业在政府的支持下按照他们自己的目标解决问题。他们在所做事情的宗旨上有正确的目标,对此我100%支持。”他说。“要推动现有的信用机构利用它们的非传统数据评分,让它们使用个人数据的用途以及分数的计算方式公开。然后再扶持这个行业。”

尽管汉密尔顿并不认为成立公营信用报告机构是解决经济不公的正确途径,但他认为联邦政府还是可以发挥很大作用。他说,除了扶持行业和加强监督外,拜登还应该在美国的金融教育上“三管齐下”,让消费者了解自己的选择,并能够比前几代人更好地运作信用体系。

与汉密尔顿不同的是,米尔兹温斯基表示,包括他自己在内的消费者权益倡导者认为,建立公营信用机构是“一个好主意”。

“这是一个已经崩溃的市场。”他说。“和信用机构打交道就像在《土拨鼠之日》(Groundhog Day)里一样,因为它们继续做着一开始就在做的事情,但它们一开始就犯了很多错误,固化了种族间的财富差距,并且拒绝把消费者当作客户,因为事实上它们的客户是企业。”

米尔兹温斯基认为,现在该将管理权交给公共部门。营利性信贷机构对投资者及其企业客户负责,但成立美国消费者金融保护局是为了把消费者放在第一位。

不过,当公营机构接手时,易速传真和益博睿会怎么样呢?这两家公司还有强劲的国际信贷业务,同时它们还在美国收集和销售数据,这项业务不会因为交接而受到阻碍。

“我不觉得那些信用机构会有什么损失。”米尔兹温斯基说。“它们仍然可以收集信息。而且仍然能够开展所有与信用报告体系无关的数据买卖活动和直销项目。所以,它们不会就此消失”

易速传真让《财富》杂志去找美国消费者数据行业协会,而益博睿和环联则没有回应众多的评论请求。

根据米尔兹温斯基和特劳伯的说法,如果真的要建立Demos提出的公营信用报告机构,那么从盈利至上转变为一个公众选项将需要七年时间,因此如有必要,这些机构会有足够的时间来调整商业模式。

但拜登是否能够做些什么仍然是未知数。佐治亚州的参议院第二轮选举将决定共和党是否在米奇•麦康奈尔的领导下守住参议院。如果麦康奈尔所在的党派从佐治亚州胜出,拜登建立公营信用机构的机会就变得渺茫,但也不致完全消失。如果民主党控制了参议院,进而控制国会和白宫,那么在拜登的任期内,建立公营信用机构的工作就很有可能早早启动。

该机构如何建立和运作尚有待商榷。在2020年的民主党大会上,民主党在其政纲中采纳了设立公共登记处的想法,但建议将它作为消费者的一种选择,而不是像Demos提案中那样,要最终取代营利性信贷行业。拜登的过渡团队没有回应就他对此的首选方法发表评论的请求,但他的过渡网站上提供了Demos提案的链接。

共和党人和民主党人都大多认为,目前的制度不够透明,许多人还认为它使不平等现象长期存在。如果国会仍然存在分歧,为建立公营信用报告机构开绿灯还是可能得到两党的支持,但消费者权益倡导者和立法者的斗争是免不了的。(财富中文网)

译者:李洙扬

The credit industry isn’t working if you ask consumer advocates. The Big Three credit agencies—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—are black boxes, gathering and selling consumer data, grading us on our financial behavior without letting us in on how they do it, and perpetuating damaging racial disparities while they’re at it.

That’s why consumer advocates are calling for a public credit reporting agency, and why President-elect Joe Biden has adopted a proposal for just that from left-leaning think tank Demos.

The proposal suggests building a publicly run credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would eventually, over the course of seven years, replace the current for-profit credit system in America. The agency would be steered by consumer need rather than the bottom line, according to proposal author Amy Traub.

“Today, credit reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are rife with problems: They often contain errors, they leave many ‘credit invisible’ due to the sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparities,” Biden’s plan for investing in communities through housing reads.

Credit scores impact nearly every corner of an American’s financial life. A less-than-ideal credit score can make it much harder to get a loan for a house or car, start a business, or even get a job. And much of how creditworthiness is determined perpetuates the racist systems and policies that have plagued Black, Latinx, and other minority communities. “I think it’s an idea that’s time has come,” Traub said, optimistic about Biden’s adoption of the proposal, spurred in part by Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of it in 2019.

It would be a big lift, but Biden ran on big promises to address racial disparities and economic justice, and this plan would be a piece of that puzzle.

Credit scores and the companies that issue them reproduce the racial wealth gap and bolster the discriminatory policies that create it. In the current system, credit scoring and other lending algorithms disproportionately label Black and Latinx people as riskier borrowers, according to Demos. Those groups are also more likely to have a “thin file,” or short credit history, which allows for many lenders to view them as risky as well.

A public credit registry would develop a transparent algorithm with an eye toward equality and removing obstacles that keep minorities from receiving loans at reasonable rates, according to the Demos proposal. One such obstacle is medical debt, which the Demos paper proposes should be left out of credit history. When people incur medical debt, it is not often a rational financial decision made with the ability to repay in mind; it’s usually taken on in an emergency for a sum unknown to the borrower until after the care has been given. And in the midst of a pandemic that has forced record-high unemployment levels, in a country that largely ties health insurance and employment together, medical debt is on the rise. This is unlike, say, a car loan, which allows borrowers the time to think rationally about taking it on. At the proposed public credit reporting agency, the car loan would factor into score and creditworthiness, but medical debt would not.

Another piece of data that would no longer be factored into questions of consumer creditworthiness is inability to repay predatory loans. The paper asserts that “a consumer’s inability to repay an abusive loan (such as the shoddy mortgages that lenders aggressively marketed in communities of color during the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis) reveals little about how the same borrower would handle credit provided on fair terms.”

Biden’s public credit agency would take some new data into account, too, such as cash flow or history of rent and utility payments—but only if consumers affirmatively opted in. This is a model that is already being used in fintech to issue loans to those deemed unworthy by traditional banks. It is also an option at credit bureaus, but that offering is not mandated.

“The incoming administration is supportive of policies that would bring more accurate and reliable data into the credit reporting ecosystem to help improve access to credit for underserved consumers,” said Francis Creighton, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, the trade group for consumer reporting companies including the major credit bureaus. “CDIA supports these efforts, and we have and will continue to advocate for policy innovations to achieve these goals.”

Brian Hamilton, CEO of One, a fintech and banking services company aimed at middle-income households, said he believes in the “spirit” of the public credit reporting agency in question, but he thinks that private industry is better suited to solve the problems that the proposal outlines than the government is. The federal government, he said, should make offering the option to add additional sources of credit history mandatory and increase oversight of the algorithms used to determine creditworthiness and the data collected on consumers. But building its own credit agency from the ground up when traditional banks, credit agencies, and fintech companies are already doing that work is not the best use of the government’s time in Hamilton’s eyes.

“I’m really in favor of private industry solving the problem with the support of the administration and their goals. They have the right goals in the spirit of what they’re trying to do, which I’m 100% for,” he said. “Push the existing credit bureaus to leverage their nontraditional data in their scores and be transparent about what they are doing with people’s data and how it is affecting scores. And then support the industry.”

Even though Hamilton doesn’t think the public credit reporting agency is the right way to go to address financial injustice, he does think that the federal government has a large role to play. He said that on top of supporting industry and increasing oversight, Biden should also “triple down” on financial education in the U.S. so consumers understand their options and can navigate the credit system better than the generations before them.

Unlike Hamilton, Mierzwinski said that consumer advocates, himself included, think building a public credit agency is “a great idea.”

“This is a market that’s broken,” he said. “It’s like Groundhog Day, dealing with the credit bureaus, because they continue to do the things they did from the beginning, which is make a lot of mistakes, perpetuate the racial wealth gap, and refuse to treat consumers as customers because, in fact, their customers are businesses.”

Mierzwinski thinks now is the right time to turn the reins over to the public sector. For-profit credit agencies answer to investors and their corporate customers, but the CFPB was created to put the consumer first.

What happens to the Equifaxes and Experians when a public agency takes over, though? The companies also have robust international credit businesses, along with collecting and selling data in the U.S., a business that won’t be impeded by the switch.

“I don’t feel bad for the credit bureaus,” Mierzwinski said. “The credit bureaus can still collect information. And they can still run all of their data broker activities and direct marketing programs that are not related to the credit reporting systems. So it’s not like they would go away.”

Equifax directed Fortune to CDIA, and Experian and TransUnion did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

And should the establishment of the Demos version of a public credit reporting agency become reality, the shift from for-profit primacy to one public option would take seven years, so the agencies would have plenty of time to adjust their business models if need be, according to Mierzwinski and Traub.

But Biden’s ability to get anything done is still up in the air. The Senate runoffs in Georgia will determine whether Republicans maintain control under Mitch McConnell. If McConnell’s party comes out of Georgia victorious, the chances of Biden being able to build a public credit agency become slimmer, but not zero. If Democrats take control of the Senate and therefore control Congress and the presidency, there’s a good chance that the building of a public credit agency will be set into motion early on in the President-elect’s term.

How the agency is established and operates is up for debate. At the Democratic convention last year, the party adopted the idea of a public registry in its platform, but suggested it as an alternative choice for consumers rather than as an eventual replacement for the for-profit credit industry as the Demos proposal suggests. The Biden transition team did not respond to requests for comment on the President-elect’s preferred approach, but Biden’s transition website links to the Demos proposal.

Republicans and Democrats tend to agree that the current system lacks necessary transparency, and many also agree that it perpetuates inequality. Should Congress remain split, green-lighting a public credit reporting agency could find bipartisan support, but it wouldn’t come without a fight from consumer advocates and lawmakers.

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