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New FICO Resilience Score can help consumers in hard times

FICO has just created a new credit score to indicate whether you're still a good risk, even in an economic downturn.

"It does help them get a few more data points as to helping them understand who's okay to lend to, and who might be a little more susceptible to a downturn like we're seeing now."

This is a drawing of what the FICO Resilience Scale might look like.

It goes from 1 to 99, and lower scores are better.

So if you've got a score of 1 to 44, that means you're more resilient, more likely to pay in a bad economy.

But if you've got a score over 70, that means you're more sensitive in a bad economy.

The score is based on the same factors as your FICO score, like your payment history and the length of your credit history, but it emphasizes your utilization rate, your debt versus available credit.

You want a rate below 30 percent.

"And it stands to reason because the closer you are to being maxed out on your credit, it's easy to see why that might make you a little more susceptible to a downturn."

But not all lenders are expected to start using this new score.

"The truth is that it takes a long time for these sorts of products to be adopted, simply because lenders have their own systems and they have to work these new scores and these new changes into any system that they have."

And while the FICO Resilience Scale is meant to help you, it's important to keep your credit score healthy.

"It's about paying your bills on time every time. It's about keeping your balances as low as you possibly can, and it's about not applying for too much credit too often."

And if you are struggling to keep up with payments, one of the best ways to protect your credit is to ask your lender for a payment deferral plan.

Many lenders are offering deferrals and they will not report you as late on your credit.

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