By: Kari Michel
Bankruptcies continue to rise and are expected to exceed 1.4 million by the end of this year, according to American Bankruptcy Institute Executive Director, Samuel J. Gerdano. Although, the overall bankruptcy rates for a lender’s portfolio is small (about 1 percent), bankruptcies result in high dollar losses for lenders. Bankruptcy losses as a percentage of total dollar losses are estimated to range from 45 percent for bankcard portfolios to 82 percent for credit unions. Additionally, collection activity is restricted because of legislation around bankruptcy. As a result, many lenders are using a bankruptcy score in conjunction with their new applicant risk score to make better acquisition decisions. This concept is a dual score strategy. It is key in management of risk, to minimize fraud, and in managing the cost of credit.
Traditional risk scores are designed to predict risk (typically predicting 90 days past due or greater). Although bankruptcies are included within this category, the actual count is relatively small. For this reason the ability to distinguish characteristics typical of a “bankruptcy” are more difficult. In addition, often times a consumer who filed bankruptcy was in “good standings” and not necessarily reflective of a typical risky consumer. By separating out bankrupt consumers, you can more accurately identify characteristics specific to bankruptcy. As mentioned previously, this is important because they account for a significant portion of the losses.
Bankruptcy scores provide added value when used with a risk score. A matrix approach is used to evaluate both scores to determine effective cutoff strategies. Evaluating applicants with both a risk score and a bankruptcy score can identify more potentially profitable applicants and more high- risk accounts.