Special Report: Liking Your Credit - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Special Report: Liking Your Credit

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Did your credit score take a nose dive in the recession? Or maybe you're young and haven't had time to build a solid financial history?

If you're looking to get a loan, you may want to get on Facebook, or Twitter.
 
BMX biking is Adam Grandmaison's passion and business. He sells cycling T-shirts, hats and stickers on his popular website. When his company started to soar, he applied for a small business loan to launch a new smartphone app. 

But Adam says the problem was, "The loan company was concerned about the fact I have really bad credit." 

So the lender hit the brakes on his application.

That is until Adam showed them his company's Facebook page with more than 100,000 'Like' and his Twitter account with more than 20,000 followers

The loan company decided Adam's BMX biz was worth the risk.

"A strong social networking presence is that it really kind of acts as your currency in terms of it represents who you are online," Adam says. 

So can your online reputation really mean money in your pocket?

In some cases: yes. We found a number of new financial companies using social media as one way to evaluate applicants. 

Start up company, Lendup, still reviews loan applicant's credit reports, just like a traditional bank. But if a borrower agrees, Lendup also checks out their Facebook and Twitter profiles to get a sense of who they are. 

"How long have people had their account? How strong is their network? How diverse is their network? How much do they interact? asks Sasha Orloff with Lendup. 

Lendup says it doesn't review pictures people post, or groups that someone has 'Liked.' 

"We don't look at anything that could be construed as discriminating against somebody for things like race, religion, color, marital status or age," Sasha says.

'On Deck' lending uses review sites like Google Places and Yelp to check out small business loan applicants. 

Consumer experts worry this trend could hurt people who don't use social media, or want to keep their accounts private.  

What about people who post fake info online?  

"There's a lot of potential for consumers to game that system and potentially for people who may not be creditworthy to appear credit worthy," says John Bryeault with National Consumer's League. 

The FTC is equally concerned and is watching the trend closely. 

Could it be possible credit reports, the traditional gauge of "credit worthiness", are becoming passe? 

90 percent of top US lenders still rely mainly on a person's FICO or credit score to make decisions. But, could social media be factored into a future FICO formula?

"We are always looking at different things, social media will fall into that, but right now its still too early," says Anthony Sprauve with FICO.

Adam says his social media rap was very predictive of his success, and the loan got his company's wheels spinning. 

"It's going super well. I mean we're making payments on it and it should be paid off in six months," Adam says.

The FTC says it's important that anyone who is turned down for a loan is told exactly what information the lender used to make that decision, whether it's a credit report or even information from a social media page. 

This gives loan applicants the change to correct any information that may be listed incorrectly.

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