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Hey Dude, What’s Your E-score

posted by Nathalie Martin

Following on to my Acxiom story last week,  check out yesterday’s NYT story on 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.



OK, let me see if I get this correctly ... once upon a time a four year college education meant the most in likelihood of succeeding in life ... them one's FICO score came along and it did not matter if the education was there or not, just if you paid bills on time and increased your need for larger and larger credit lines ... bad FICO, not allowed to get a good job .... bad character and security risk .... but live on dad and mom's tax free earnings passed trough trusts and shielded from helping pay for undeclared wars, and shielded from any future chance of actually paying the national debt down .... but now we have a better system to decipher inclusion in the 1% class verses the lowly other classes ... ahh yes. Makes perfect sense to me. (Honey, about forget waiting to see if the American Taliban NeoCon Wall Street Party wins the election. Go ahead and get those permanent resident VISAs ... we gotta get outta of this place now.)

We can't predict the weather more than a few days out, but we can determine years of future human behavior with an algorithm that spits out a 2 digit number. Right...

I just wish I'd thought of it. The guys selling these scores have got to be making a ton of cash for spitting out nonsense.

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