What’s a predictive score?

Washington, DC - Most consumers know that creditors use information about them and their credit experiences – like the number and type of accounts they have, their bill paying history, and whether they pay their bills on time – to create a credit score, which helps predict how creditworthy they are. (And if they don’t, they can learn about credit scores at the FTC’s Consumer Center.)

  What most consumers don’t know is that data brokers offer companies scores for other purposes unrelated to credit – for example, for marketing, advertising, identity verification, and fraud prevention. Businesses use these scores to decide which transactions require further scrutiny, what offers and prices to offer certain consumers, and even in what order to answer consumers’ customer service call. 

Some have raised concerns about consumers’ awareness about what’s going on and the accuracy of the data used to create these predictive scores.  Others wonder how these scores might be used in the future. To explore these questions, the FTC is continuing its Spring Privacy Series on March 19, 2014, with a seminar on Alternative Scoring Products. We’re bringing together technologists, industry experts, consumer advocates, and researchers to talk over topics like:

  • What kinds of predictive scores are being used now? What are they used for? How will they be used in the future?
  • What kind of information is used to create these scores? How accurate is this information?
  • What are the benefits of these predictive scores?
  • Are there privacy concerns associated with these scores?
  • What consumer protections should be provided; for example, should consumers have access to these scores and the underlying data used to create them?

The seminar is set for 10:00 to noon Eastern Time at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., in Washington, DC. If you can’t attend in person, watch the webcast. We’ll post a link on the event page that morning.  We'll also be live-tweeting the seminar.  Follow @FTC and use the hashtag: #FTCpriv.

The Alternative Scoring Products workshop is just one of a series of events the FTC is hosting this spring to explore the consumer privacy implications of emerging technologies.  If alternative scores aren’t your thing, but you totally geek out over privacy and health-related issues, make sure you mark your calendar to discuss Consumer Generated and Controlled Health Data on May 7th.

Additional information