A court ruling this week says 'liking' something on Facebook is an expression of free speech.
We know that credit goes way beyond the plastic in our wallets -- from how much debt we carry to paying it off on time. Now, some credit agencies are looking into using our social media information in our credit reports.
Credit expert John Ulzheimer says what we post and who we add as friends on social media can have farer reaching effects than we think. “It’s the whole mantra, birds of a feather tend to flock together. And if you tend to connect with people who are high risk or higher risk borrowers, then the perception is that you are as well. And that’s really where the issue lies.”
It's not hard to figure out why credit agencies would want to know what you're like as a person to decide if you're worthy of a loan or credit card, but, is it legal? Ulzheimer says that remains to be seen. "Whether or not it’s legal really is up to how it is perceived in the Equal Opportunity Credit Act. It has to be built using science.”
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have treasure troves full of information that they could sell, but actually selling personal information could lead to headaches down the road, according to Ulzheimer. “Here is the massive, massive problem that ... social media sites are going to have to deal with. Right now, none of those companies are referred to as a 'consumer reporting agency.' The Fair Credit Reporting Act has a very clear definition of what is a consumer reporting agency. The minute any of these social media sites decide to monetize their information for the purposes of allowing lenders and credit reporting agencies to assess the risk … of consumers, they also become become a consumer reporting agency … you’re going to be in the crosshairs for any number of federal fair credit reporting lawsuits.”
So, should you worry? Ulzheimer says don't go into paralysis over your social media networks, but if there's something you want to remain private, don't post it. "I would just be very careful, that if you’re not willing to tell everybody something, then don’t post it on Facebook, don’t put it on Twitter.”
Sound advice, even beyond credit scores.