And Big Brother doesn’t stop there. Get this: Another company gathers information about potential loan applicants from the very moment you click on the website. If you spend time reading information about the loan, you are more likely to get one. If you fill out the application with all capital letters or with none, you’ve raised a red flag.
Is there any penalty for mixing up “your” and “you’re”? Because there should be.
These are niche lenders employing these techniques, but experts say it’s on the verge of going mainstream. But it’s not all bad. Sharing personal information with lenders could actually help you if they like what they see.
One small business lender gives debtors the option to link their Facebook and Twitter accounts to their site. Linking can come with perks because the small businesses who choose to link up are 20% less likely to be delinquent on their loans.
So what’s the final verdic? Do we need to de-friend that uncle who can’t keep the lights on?
Not yet. The vast majority of lenders still use the good old FICO score—that’s the traditional credit score that ranges from 300 to 850. They’re called “FICO Scores” because they’re generally produced from software developed by FICO (Fair Isaac and Company). Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the Big Three. If you’re worried about qualifying for a loan in the future, do your best to raise your own credit score and let your friends—cyber and otherwise—worry about themselves.
Mellody is President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts. Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.