U.S. consumers were a greater credit risk across all types of loans in the first three months of this year than they were during the same period a year ago, according to TransUnion's Credit Risk Index, a statistic developed to measure changes in average consumer credit risk within various geographies. The index was 127.26 for the quarter ended March 31, up from 124.79 for the previous quarter and up from 118.83 in the first quarter of 2008. The Chicago-based credit bureau set the index in 1998 at 100. By state, Mississippi's index was the highest at 166.45, followed by Texas at 162.59 and Nevada at 158.97. North Dakota had the lowest index at 82.02, followed by Minnesota at 88.53 and Vermont at 91.82. "The Credit Risk Index is a means of comparing the true risk, i.e. the probability of negative performance, for population segments across geographies and over time in a manner that's far more accurate than averaging credit scores," Ezra Becker, director of consulting and strategy in TransUnion's financial services group, tells CardLine sister publication Collections & Credit Risk. In this case, negative performance includes all loan types–including credit card, mortgage and auto–that are 90 days past due, Becker says.

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