PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Have you ever thought about what your Facebook friends list says about you? Ever post a status update about your credit problems?
It turns out, companies, insurers, and even employers are using social media to make decisions about you such as, if you are a good candidate for a loan, mortgage, or level of health insurance.
KDKA-AM’s John Shumway talked to national credit expert Paul Oster about how your social media patterns could be used against you.
“The trend is that data companies are collecting data and than giving it to the banks and insurance companies,” says Oster. “The banks and insurance companies want to know certain things, and simply there’s no better place to get things about potential borrowers or insurance clients then social media.”
Those things include if your Facebook friends have good or bad credit, or if your posts show instability at work or home, all potential things that could show your credit worthiness. Health insurance providers are looking at posts and pictures to see if you live a risky lifestyle for decisions on insurance, or if you make disability or injury claims while posting pictures of you doing active things. They even check your Foursquare account to see if you are checking into McDonald’s and Wendy’s, as opposed to Wholefoods or the gym.
“People put things on social media like, ‘Hey does anyone know a good bankruptcy attorney,’ or ‘Hey I’m losing my job on Monday and looking for a new job.’ When you put those things out there, they get picked up,” Oster said.
Oster says some of these data companies can collect up to 8,000 data points that could be used for or against you when applying for a loan. And this isn’t a new trend- some companies have been using this data for at least three years.
“Even if you have all of your privacy settings on private, as soon as you post something on your friend’s wall and they don’t have everything on private, these companies can backtrack into your data,” Oster said.
To protect yourself, Oster says you should put everything on private, and ask your friends to also put their social media on private. He also says you should be conscious of what you post, since anything you put online can live forever. Even if you delete something, it’s still saved somewhere.
“Once you put it out there, it’s in a cloud somewhere and when it rains, it’s going to pour on somebody,” Oster said.