Lack of U.S. credit history can result in higher utility deposit



Dear Experian,

I’m a visiting J1 exchange professor at the University of Hawaii, and I’m being asked by the Hawaiian Electric company to pay a pretty hefty deposit for service to the house I’m renting. They have told me that Experian is the company they use for credit ratings and that the deposit is based on a rating provided by you. I have a very good credit rating in my home country. Could this rating not be used by your company?



Dear CHG,

The utility company purchases your Experian credit report and utilizes a credit score, which may be delivered along with the report, to help it predict risk of non-payment and set a security deposit reflective of that risk.

Experian does not rate the information in the credit report or “use” a rating to make decisions or recommend decisions.

Unfortunately, because you have no U.S. credit history, the utility company has no payment history with which it can assess your financial trustworthiness, and so you are faced with a higher security deposit.

Equally unfortunate is that reports cannot be transferred from one country to another. There are a number of reasons. Laws governing credit reporting differ from nation to nation, as do the computer systems used to maintain the information and the information included in the credit report itself.

You indicated that you only have a temporary visa, so you may not need to establish a U.S. credit history. However, if you are staying in the U.S. for an extended period and wish to begin building a U.S. credit history, a good first step might be talking to lenders in your area. They may be willing to open a credit account with a small balance and report it to the national credit reporting companies.

If you have current accounts in your home country with one or more multi-national institutions, they may be able to transfer the accounts to their U.S. operations, resulting in a credit report being created here.

While establishing a credit history will be helpful in the long term, there is no way to create a credit history instantly, so you may have no choice but to pay the higher security deposit.

Thanks for asking.

The “Ask Experian” team

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