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Will banks eventually have access to your social media account?

Jun 11, 2012 Walt Wojciechowski

There are a variety of factors that go into determining one's consumer credit score. For instance, past credit history, delinquent debts, late utility payments, etc. But there may be another burgeoning source for banks to determine creditworthiness - a source that many people use almost every day: Social media. PCWorld reports that there is growing interest among banks to scour customers' Facebook profiles to determine whether or not to provide them with loans. One way banks gauge creditworthiness is by viewing a customer's friends. If someone on that list of friends is known to have poor credit, is seen to be living at home or even posts pictures of lewd, irresponsible behavior, the fact that the consumer is linked to that person could affect their ability to secure a loan. BetaBeat puts forward a "nightmare scenario" where banks dig even deeper in one's profile for credit information. "If banks learn how to use social media, they could gather information they aren’t allowed to ask for on a credit application - including race, marital status and receipt of public assistance - or worse, to redline segments of the social graph," the news source states. "In other words: choose your online friends wisely, for they may one day determine your APR." PCWorld adds that one major issue with the "your friends determine your creditworthiness" idea is that many of the people consumers may be Facebook friends with aren't anything more than random acquaintances in real life. The troubled financial past of someone they met at a party five years ago and never "de-friended" could end up coming back to bite them. Technology Review points to one company that has already gotten in on this potential new and invasive way to determine one's consumer credit score. Hong Kong-based Lenddo uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites to determine one's online reputation. "Our theory is, we could duplicate the social dynamics of microfinance, but instead do it online," CEO Jeff Stewart tells the news source. Lenddo allows loans over several hundred dollars at a time to consumers all over the world - many of whom may not have the means for repayment. What's even more concerning is the way it goes about obtaining past due loans - if a person signs up for Lenddo, the site reserves the right to make posts on that person's social media page to pressure him or her into paying.