You’re smart… you already screen out embarrassing photos from you Facebook profile. Do you soon have to start screening out your credit-unworthy friends? That’s the gist of an article that appeared in PC World: those you associate with online may be reflected in the credit offers you receive when you apply for credit. So let’s cover it: do companies check your social media profiles?
Oh, the Horrors!
I’m just surprised it took this long for people to start noticing that this could happen. As in all things, more information can lead to better decisions (even by banks!). The fact you are publicizing your life on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace makes the job of the bank lending to you that much easier… it can see who you associate with and their general purchasing habits. If you hang out with a lot of deadbeats, odds are better you’re a deadbeat.
I already see targeted advertising when I log into my Facebook page – this proves the efficacy of this type of company behavior. The next step is looking through the profiles of you and your buddies to try to glean information like purchasing behavior and monetary attitude. This won’t always hurt you.
So, companies check your social media profiles. What can you do?
Short of deleting your profile from every network, you can set your privacy settings to very controlled levels – locking out everyone except people who have been explicitly friended by you. Or, embrace the chance, and post truthful (or misleading!) information which helps you get a loan for a boat. Either way, welcome to the new normal, where your actions online have consequences.
Another idea: social media can be used strategically nowadays, since we expect many different people (and institutions) to take a look. If you think (or know) that your bank or someone else is going to look at your profile, you can subtly edit it to show off your best qualities – and, you know, remove any evidence of past party activity. I trust you’re over those days now.
Readers, how do you set your online privacy policies?