How Social Networks Can Augment Your Credit Score

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With the social profile being a more integral part of our daily lives, credit companies are starting to take an interest in what we’re saying, and how we operate online. Bad credit and a lack of financial tools — such as a bank account — has led to a lot of people to be excluded by the lending industry. But soon your Facebook likes might help you to get that loan.

One lending startup, LendUp, is using a mix of traditional credit score data and information from your social media accounts to get a fuller picture of you as a client. Lendup takes particular interest in your number of friends and contacts. “Do you have 4,000 friends but none are that close, or do you have 30 people, but they’re very close? There are ways to measure how engaged and how strong your community ties are” says Sasha Orloff, CEO and co-founder of LendUp.

Kabbage Inc is a company that offers small business loans to online enterprises. By looking at eBay and Amazon feedback, as well as the response to your company on Facebook and Twitter, analysts can gauge your business growth and commitment to customer service. Positive data from these sources can help qualify your business for a loan, or even increase the amount you’re eligible to receive.

With these smaller ventures gaining traction, the bigger players are starting to take an interest. Fair Isaac Corp, which provides scores used by 90 percent of lenders, are looking into social media as an indicator of financial health. “There could come a time where certain social media could be predictive and we’re looking at that, but it isn’t yet” says Anthony Sprauve, a senior consumer-credit specialist at FICO.

While FICO may be waiting in the wings, the Consumer Finance and Protection Bureau is aware of the growing trend. The FTC will be hosting seminars on the subject in the spring. While there are currently no laws against this kind of business model, there are also no consumer protections. People in many professions already feel the need to tread lightly on social media, and if this initiative in credit reporting takes off, we may end up walking on eggshells.

Image Credit: photosteve101

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