Washington Post: Majorities of Consumers in 37 States Have Subprime Credit Scores

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post on Prosperity Now's Assets & Opportunity Scorecard appeared in the Washington Post's GovBeat, a new-ish blog on state and local policy that we highly recommend. You can see Niraj's original post here.

We missed this report last month, but fortunately it resurfaced on a local newspaper's site Thursday.

Every year, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a think tank focused on the poor and middle class, releases a scorecard grading states on policies that enable or frustrate the ability of residents to improve their lot. It focuses on policies that facilitate new opportunities and make it easy for people to build up their own personal safety net. The report also provides snapshots of where people stand, and one of them is particularly striking.

In 37 states and the District of Columbia, more than half of consumers have credit scores too low to get decent (prime) rates.

Mississippi has the highest percentage of consumers with subprime credit scores (69.1%), while Minnesota has the lowest (43.8%). Many Americans also lack access to safe and affordable financial services and products. One in five (20.1%) households is "underbanked," meaning they have a mainstream bank account but still rely on high-cost, alternative banking products. As a result, they are more vulnerable to predatory financial products and services.

Most states regulate predatory lending in some way, but rates can still be incredibly high for individuals with such low scores: "19 states prohibit or cap at 36% APR or lower payday loans, 30 states prohibit or cap auto-title loans and 22 states cap small-dollar installment loans. Nine states and the District of Columbia have prohibited or capped all three types of predatory loan products."

Prosperity Now purchases the aggregate data from Transunion, one of the nation's largest credit bureaus. The subprime score is based on internal ratings the bureau uses to gauge an individual's creditworthiness.

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