E-Score

A story in the NYT story says it is now about the e-scores.  The e-score is a private digitized ranking of consumers in the range of 0 to 99 that tells marketers your full socio- economic status, including your occupation, salary, and home value. It also reports on your distinct spending habits, such as the percentage of income spent on luxury goods, hotels, etc. Supposedly, the algorithm perfectly predicts spending and obviously knows more about us than we do. I’d like to know mine actually, but they are not available to us. The e-score process is entirely nontransparent and obviously not regulated.

Perhaps this is not news or even new, but it is interesting. The data are used to know to whom to spam, er..market, and also to know to whom to send the really great deals (the wealthier people, dud..) and to whom to send the ads for subprime loans, vocational and for-profit universities, payday loans, etc.

Customer service also differs for different scores. For example if a high-scoring person calls a credit card company, the person is directed to an elite agent, while the poor schmoes at the bottom get sent to an overseas call center. The same system is used to determine which insurance products to offer to whom.

Apparently the founder of the leading e-score company learned working at Fingerhut how to sniff out a good paying customer, concluding back then (without computers) that people who filled out forms in pen were better payers than those who used pencils and people who used a middle initial paid more often that those who did not. The part of all this that worries me most is the marketing being done to lower income consumers.  No doubt we are watching the gap between the haves and the have nots  deepen even further.