THE BLOG

Think Before You Friend

05/13/2010 12:37 pm 12:37:57 | Updated May 25, 2011

Banks, credit unions, real estate agents -- we know they all look at our credit reports and sometimes even our tax records. But, increasingly, they are also reviewing our social networking sites.

Some of your "friends" on Facebook may be bankers deciding whether to offer you a special loan deal or credit card, and some of your Tweets may be read by a real estate agent thinking about whether you are a good candidate for a rental apartment.

Federal credit reporting laws are murky, at best, when it comes to the use of information gleaned from social networking sites and how that information might be used to make important financial decisions that can greatly impact our lives.

In San Francisco, a so-called "peer-to-peer" lending institution uses information from social networking sites to help market certain financial products to those Facebook "friends" who share similiar traits.

In Boston, a veteran real estate agent is asked by a landlord to evaluate a rental applicant's social networking accounts, which leads to the applicant being rejected for an apartment.

Consumer advocates and financial experts alike worry that we are moving rapidly into a brave, new world where what we Tweet and who our Facebook friends are may play important roles in deciding our economic future.

And, the laws are woefully behind the technology...as a cottage industry has sprung up that collects and then sells information found online about us to banks, insurance companies and others.

One such data mining company boasts it indexes over 2 million new emails every day looking for information on social networking sites.

Just a few of the findings of a series of special reports airing throughout the day (Thursday) on K-N-X 1070 Newsradio by investigative reporter Charles Feldman.