XML credit report standards enable credit bureau information to be better utilized within business and financial transactions, and more easily passed from one computer program to another within a secure environment and with permissible purposes.
XML credit report data can be handled manually, but it is important to note that programming tools are available to relieve developers of the details. The Microsoft .NET (dot net) framework is based on XML, and its data access API (known as ADO .NET) encapsulates classes for reading, writing and navigating XML data. Visual BASIC, Visual C++ and other programming tools are beginning to simplify all of this for standalone, as well as web-based applications. IBM DB2 XML credit report database management solutions are available, as are solutions for Microsoft SQL Server.
The first requirement is to employ software for high-speed communication with the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, Trans Union) and to have that software parse the data for storage in your local SQL Server or IBM DB2 database. This can operate as a background service. Industry and company-specific needs can then be met by direct access to database tables, access to fully rendered credit reports, or access to standards-based XML.
The most comprehensive credit report XML specification is MISMO, provided by the Mortgage Banker's Association of America's Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization. The overall specification covers loan origination, real estate services, secondary marketing, and servicing. Credit report software performs the specialized task of providing data in the correct format for the parts of the MISMO standard which are related to credit reports, whether single, two-bureau, or tri-merged.
XML credit report standards now make it possible, in the home lending field, for identical data files to to be submitted to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for an underwriting decision.
The HR-XML Consortium has developed XML standards for employment screening. A person's background check, based on Experian Employment Insight, TransUnion PEER, and Equifax Persona employment credit reports can now be stored using a standard XML schema. Credit software is needed to handle the work of getting the data, populating the XML, and of resolving compatibility issues in the way the credit bureaus provide the data.
The process of correctly converting data from the three bureaus to a common format, then representing it as an industry standard XML credit report is not a simple one. It is best to let proven credit software handle the issues of proper layout, standardized tag and attribute names, and standardized data representation. In the process, hundreds of lookup tables are utilized to ensure that the data and the wording of each description conforms to the specifications.
Converting Credit Bureau Data to XML
XML has the advantage of being extensible. The MISMO and HR-XML specifications allow custom tags to be added without breaking the original code. For example, easier development and more efficient processing can be achieved by allowing the credit retrieval engine to automatically generate and include custom tags for summary data, along with the credit report detail.
Being open, as well as comprehensive, the MISMO and HR-XML specifications for credit reports are useful outside their originally intended applications and targeted industries. Where necessary, tools are available for transforming the XML data to other specifications.
XML was conceived primarily as neutral self-describing way of transfering data from one party to another. Once it is at a particular destination, tools are available for importing XML to traditional database storage, or for handling the XML data on a node-by-node basis.
Within the XML data that might exist for a liability item on a credit report, tags such as Account Identifier (the account number), open date, status date, creditor name, high credit amount, and others can be seen. A custom decisioning process can cycle through this and other information to arrive at a score or decision. This information can be used in other ways, as well, such as populating part of a loan application.