FICO Report Shows Consumers with High Credit Scores Pay Credit Cards While Mortgages Lapse

The company behind the country's most widely-used credit scoring formula announced a startling new trend in February. A FICO review of recent consumer credit histories revealed that Americans with credit scores above 760 were more than twice as likely to let their mortgage lapse into delinquency while keeping their credit card payments current.

Banking industry analysts attribute the trend to a surge of homeowners facing delinquency for the first time with little guidance about how to prioritize debt repayment. Speaking to Bloomberg News, FICO officials pointed out that many consumers with high credit scores maintain multiple real estate investments, making them more likely to miss payments on secondary properties than on their primary homes.

FICO's review also uncovered a growing number of high-scoring Americans pursuing a "strategic default" payment pattern. A similar report from Experian showed a 128% rise in strategic defaults between 2007 and 2008. Some homeowners have stopped making mortgage payments in anticipation of loan modification agreements, while others respond to assertive requests for payment from credit card companies.