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Recently I moved to a new state and needed to get signed up with the local electric company. They ran a credit check on me and determined that I needed to pay a $200 deposit. They said this was because my credit score from Experian was less than 500.

I had run into some credit issues that turned out to be a bad account being put on my credit report. I had this fixed but I thought that something like this may have happened again. So I paid $15 for my credit report + score from Experian only to find out my score was > 700 and that there was no negatives on my account.

I contacted the power company that told me the score they received was my TEC score which may differ from my FICO score and that I would have to take it up with Experian.

My questions (sorry for the long winded intro) are...

  1. What is my TEC score, how is it different from my FICO score?
  2. Is it possible / likely that my TEC score would be 200 points different from my FICO?
  3. What rights do I have to the information contained in my TEC score?

I tried scouring Experian's site for info, but all the info they have for TEC is trying to sell it to companies.

Thanks for any help or advice!

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I suspect that 500 may not be a bad score just not a great score. But I have no way of confirming this. Experion did not want to share any information about their reporting with me. But my suspicion is that since you are newly relocated (and I would be new at your current job) they have a higher requirement for new service. –  user4127 Mar 1 '12 at 13:59
    
@chad that's a good point. I'm not even sure if it's on the same scale as the FICO score. I've tried calling Experian and it's near impossible to get past the automated prompt. Thanks for the response. –  Shaded Mar 1 '12 at 15:39
    
The problem with this score is that the fraud model attempts to find people who are using fraudulent identities to sign up for utilities. Why is this a problem? Utilities are notoriously sloppy and people routinely use incorrect addresses or fail to change addresses in a timely manner -- especially now that email-based billing is popular. If you have lived in a place with lots of transients, have a common name, etc you can run into issues. –  duffbeer703 Mar 9 '12 at 1:02
    
I just had the same exact thing happen to me. There is literally NO reason to have to have a deposit. ALL my other bills are paid on time. It is actually one of my "pros" on my credit report that I pay all bills on time. Yet, UGI is making me pay $82 in a deposit because of a low TEC score!!! This is ridiculous! –  concernedconsumer May 6 at 13:28
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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The TEC (Telecommunications, Energy, and Cable) Score is based on a separate risk model that Experian developed to be specific to telecomm and energy accounts. Supposedly this risk model uses information from your utility accounts, but it's possible it could be based on any information that Experian has on you.

Do you have any red flags or derogatory marks on your credit report, such as late payments on prior utilities? A bad mark here could have an amplified effect on your TEC score.

Other than that, contacting Experian may be the way to go. I would look to see what processes they have for disputing items on your credit report and go from there.

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On the report they gave me I didn't have any negative marks. I guess I'll have to contact them. Such a hassle credit is. –  Shaded Feb 29 '12 at 18:49
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As Steven said, it's a completely different score by Experian just for utility companies. No matter what your TEC score, I wouldn't take it harshly. It's fairly inaccurate.

I have a pretty good credit score with Experian, yet my TEC score requires me to make a deposit for starting a new electric service, because of "insufficient credit history", though I've had electric, gas, water, cable, Internet, cell phone and home phone service for over 15 years (give or take a few years on some of those) and have never missed a single payment——credit or utilities. I can only assume that it's a flawed system, where only a few utility companies are actually reporting your history with Experian.

In the long run, it doesn't really matter because after a year or so you should get your deposit back, possibly with interest, so if anything, a bad TEC score might even save you a few pennies down the road.

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Yeah I suppose, I just don't like paying deposits on utilities because I'm sure the interest rate they give is not as good as my savings or possibly my checking account. I suppose I don't really have a choice in the matter though. Thanks for the answer. –  Shaded Mar 9 '12 at 15:22
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The TEC Score was developed so credit and Utility companies can use your credit history against you; they simply take your credit report and use anything that is not perfect and use this as a larger percentage. I called Experian and was told that you should expect your TEC score to be 30% lower than your credit score. I think that this is a News Story waiting to happen - how utilities are screwing everybody - nice

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So, another fraudulent TEC score provides a way for a utility company to get more money from consumers... while causing undue stress. Supposedly created to provide alternative credit monitoring for consumers with little or no credit history; yet again another client of mine who has a 780 FICO score (with an extremely established credit history) is being charged an extra $8/month for gas service. This is one of the most ridiculous examples of consumer rights being violated.

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