From FICO to Facebook, some lending institutions are turning to social media to assess your credit score. If you have a tough time accessing credit or don't have a credit score, you should take into account that a number of lending companies are using your online activity as an indicator of your creditworthiness.
But the practice is raising legal concerns.
Lenddo is a Hong Kong-based micro-lender on the forefront of factoring in social media data into its lending decisions, reports CNN Money.
Companies like Lenddo use social behavior, information from your community, and data related to your online purchases to provide a more accurate representation of your creditworthiness.
Taking the old adage of "you are the company you keep" to unsettling new levels, if one of your friends has a bad track record, that doesn't bode well for you.
Invasion of Privacy
The overarching concern is online consumer privacy, of course.
For example, a German company called Kreditech determines your location and considers creditworthiness based on whether your computer is located where you said you live or work, reports CNN Money.
Meanwhile, Lenddo reserves the right to e-publicly shame you to your friends and family when you fall behind on your payments.
Albeit creepy, since these companies disclose the invasive practices and get consent from potential borrowers, the companies may be in the legal clear with valid contractual agreements.
Another concern with banks using social media is the potential for credit and lending discrimination.
If banks take into account social media, they could gather information they aren’t legally allowed to ask for on a credit application -- including race, marital status and receipt of public assistance -- or worse, redline low-income groups and communities.
Dislike and De-Friend
A major issue with this model is that we aren't really friends with all of our Facebook cohorts.
Does an occasional poke or "Happy Birthday! <|:-)" merit you and your friends' financial histories -- and futures -- being intertwined? No. But whether you "Like" it or not, this is becoming a reality.
So it may be best to prune your friends list and think long and hard about that really nice friend of yours who fell behind on his car payments when he was unemployed.