It appears people are becoming more aware of the ramifications of "bad" social network posts. A recent study showed that 71 percent of users will self-censor their social network comments.
In spite of that, apps like Snapchat and Whisper exist to allow some to continue to act out anonymously. But overall, the public is learning that too much of the wrong information posted publicly can have lasting repercussions. In fact, college admissions boards and employers have used social media to conduct background checks on applicants for the past few years.
Now, some loan companies are giving people one more reason to censor their pics and posts online. To be specific, a few smaller loan companies recently shared that they would validate the creditworthiness of applicants through social media profiles.
Although this additional resource could potentially present positive feedback, some worry about the credibility and fairness of judging a borrower by their social network profile.
What do you think?
There are pros and cons. On the side of the pros, if a lending company will determine that the higher the quality of a social profile, the higher caliber the loan applicant, then what are the criteria? To illustrate, if someone is more responsive and dedicated to their friends via Facebook, it may suggest that they will uphold the same responsiveness with their lender.
On the other hand, the efficacy of using social networks as a metric may be questionable. And, there is the potential for lenders to misinterpret information collected from a social profile. For example, if someone is a practical joker and rowdy fan of college football, their profile might be fundamentally different than an introvert with a PhD that collects butterflies. But perhaps that's the point?
Most importantly, if a bad impression is made, the borrower could be denied credit or charged a higher interest rate based on perceived credit risk. Now we'll have credit score profiling? And unlike lending companies that check and verify a person's credit history, companies using social networks are not required to verify any information acquired and reviewed therein.
Will regulators create an objective, documented process for social network profile scoring? If not, the personality, biases and mood of the lender at the moment of checking a Facebook or Instagram post might impact this subjective "fact-checking" exercise.
It has become clear that social networks are mainstream sources of information. Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Facebook and Twitter as a method to disclose corporate information.
So, if perusal of social profiles becomes a trend and established evaluation method among lending companies, will credit savvy users clean-up their Facebook pages to appeal to the lender rather than their online "friends"?
Adults and teens: be aware that social network profiles are no longer a place to act out, but a place to be real... but only if you want to get into college, get hired or get a loan.
Note: This article and the opinions expressed here are from Russ Warner, Internet safety expert and CEO of ContentWatch, makers of parental control software Net Nanny.
Follow Russ Warner on Google+.
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Phony debt collection agencies have pressured victims into giving up millions of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission recently closed down two California-based companies with call centers in India after they defrauded Americans out of $5 million over the past two years.
Craigslist and eBay are a playground for scammers. Consumers have sent payments to places like Nigeria for items advertised online only to discover they have been scammed. Last year, Romanians pretending to be U.S. citizens put fake ads for pricey items on eBay and Craigslist, defrauding Americans out of more than $100 million.
Canadian police arrested a man who tried to take a $70,000 processing fee from an elderly Californian woman who believed she was going to win a $7.5 million lottery prize in April. More recently, eight Jamaican swindlers accused of duping Americans in lottery scams were also arrested.
Fake charity organizations come out of the woodwork to exploit the generosity of others, especially during times of disaster. Most recently, an organization that claims to help disabled veterans called Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) took millions of dollars from donors without spending the money on veterans.
Scammers targeting struggling homeowners have offered false services to help with mortgage settlements. Mortgage foreclosure scams have shot up 60 percent in 2012 as new federal programs for mortgages have provided avenues for fraudsters to exploit.
Scam complaints related to travelling surged right before spring break last year. Crooks defrauded grandparents out of money when their grandchildren were travelling abroad. The scammers, who find out about the travel plans from places like social media sites, pretend to be the grandchild asking for wire transfers on the phone. The scams have involved scammers pretending in an email to be a victim's travelling relative who has recently been mugged or has lost their passport.
Although there isn't much data on how often it occurs, food scams can pose a tremendous health risk. The chances of dilution and counterfeiting increase when food is imported from other countries, and some foods like fish and olive oil are particularly prone to adulteration.
Scammers have sold drugs to online consumers and then posed as government agents asking the buyers to pay money to avoid jail time. A Texas woman killed herself after being caught up in one of these drug schemes.
Credit card breaches allow fraudsters to make charges on other peoples' cards after getting a hold of numbers. Global Payments Inc., a third party payment processing service for MasterCard and Visa, made headlines in April for reporting that over a million card numbers had been compromised from their system, according to CNET.
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