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Experian adds rent payments to credit reports

Renters who need to build their credit histories are getting a leg up from a major consumer credit reporting agency.

Experian is now incorporating rental-payment history data from its recently acquired RentBureau unit into its traditional credit file, which it says will make it easier for college students, recent graduates and immigrants to boost their credit scores — if they pay their rent on time. Typically, credit reports include payment history on credit cards, mortgages, retail accounts, installment loans and finance company accounts.

Experian’s move comes at a good time, with the U.S. homeowner rate falling to its lowest level since 1998. It was 66.5 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s 0.7 percentage points lower than the fourth quarter of 2009 and 0.4 percentage points lower than the rate in the third quarter of 2010. The last time it was below the current level was in the fourth quarter of 1998, census data shows. Get the full story »

Chicago consumer credit default rates decline

Consumer credit default rates dropped in Chicago in January on a monthly and year-over-year basis, according to data released Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s and Experian.

The two firms track default rates across lines of consumer credit such as first and second mortgages, bank cards and auto loans. Chicago is one of five major cities that the S&P/Experian index breaks out separately. In Chicago, the January default rate was 2.74 percent, a decline of 42 percent from January 2010 and down 12 percent from December 2010. Get the full story »