2/28/2014

Some Lenders Are Checking Borrowers' Social Media Accounts


Along with new lending rules for buyers and lenders that came into effect on January 1, there's more to think about, too.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, a buyer's Facebook and Twitter data may help a lending company determine a borrower's creditworthiness.  Ironically, these same lending companies may be backed with venture funding from Google Ventures or Accell Partners (early Facebook investor). 

Social media accounts are a way to double check a borrower's job information (see your LinkedIn account), or there's a post about how you got fired on Facebook.  And E-Bay could be a great place to check your small business reviews by others. Right now this practice of social media review is primarily used by smaller loan sources, but Fair Isaac Corp. (your FICO credit score company) is considering incorporating social media, and since it provides credit scoring for the vast majority of lender decisions, that could have a huge impact.

Lendup, a San Francisco lending source, is one company currently using a mix of credit bureau and social media information to help assess borrowers' risk and verify identities. Applicants are voluntarily sharing their Facebook, Twitter and other social sites which Lendup is using, although they don't require it.  It just helps on the road towards loan approval.  This is a company backed by Google Ventures and which expects to make 300,000 loans in 2014.

At Moven, a mobile-only bank, customers can link up their social media accounts to learn about their own financial behavior and make payments to friends. The President of Moven says social-media activity will be one factor used in lending decision on their future loans. He believes social media data says more about customers than their FICO score.

Kabbage Inc, a loan source for small businesses, requires a customer to link at least one account such as Amazon, e-Bay, or Xero for underwriting decisions.  Kabbage, Inc., is looking at how many "likes" a customer receives, and what reviews are saying about the borrower's business.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are taking a close look at privacy issues. If, for example, a consumer reporting company such as Experience or Equifax has inaccurate information on a borrower, the consumer may dispute that information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. But  companies using social media in their lending decisions don't have to verify the information about you because it isn't reported to third parties, so there apparently is little or no regulation when it comes to this type of  "background check" on a borrower.
" 'There are privacy concerns. People don't understand the implications or why they may be considered undesirable' " for credit, said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, who is calling for regulation."
See the full article at http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304773104579266423512930050?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304773104579266423512930050.html

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