Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Super credit" agencies ready to mine social media for the dirt on you

FreeCreditReport.com may have catchy commercials, but there's nothing cute about where the credit reporting industry is headed. This is a case of Big Brother watching not only you but all your friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

It used to be that a credit reporting agency concerned itself with investigating the creditworthiness of a person who had applied for a loan. That may be part of the mission still, but there's a fair argument to be made that financial institutions are using credit scores to make money. Consider the news that Freddie Mac wants to keep collecting higher interest on your mortgage. How do they do this? By slapping down ordinary people anytime they put a foot wrong. And now they're not only going to be looking at you, but everyone connected to you.

An article last month on AmericanBanker.com titled "9 Trends Reshaping Risk Software" points to the growing use of the super credit score. "One idea banks are toying with is that of incorporating social media data into assessments of credit risk, for instance, by considering the credit scores of a person's friends in addition to that person's own score," it says.


I suppose there are people who might see this as an opportunity to rent themselves out online as "SuperFriends."