Beware: Credit Collection and Insurance Agents Could be Posing as Friends in your Facebook Profile

computer_securityCredit card companies are now processing data found on Facebook profiles to determine whether to approve credit for a user, his spending habits, and his capacity to pay off debts and even whether to close his account entirely. This is called social media monitoring or ‘social graphs’ used to create consumer profiles for users.

Data Mining

Where do they get this information? From the user’s demographic information, his comments, his ‘like’ hits and even the friends he keeps on Facebook.

Living in an area where people are considered low income generators or being friends with those who are known to have bad credit might discredit Facebook users for credit approval from credit companies. This is a classic case of stereotyping. A user’s income directly influences his chances for credit approval. When he shares this online, he shares it with credit companies too. Having more friends, being extroverted or being open to new ideas can be translated to a faster credit approval. Why? Extroverted people are thought to be spenders. When a user hits a ‘like’ button for a certain brand, product or service, creditors can then market these directly to him, cutting down on promotion costs.

Rapleaf, a firm specializing in social media monitoring calls it marketing trend, or bringing closer to consumers what they really like and giving businesses and companies insight to consumer behavior. But when a credit company purchases this kind of service, where else would they use the information if not on supplementing credit score info?

Digital Bounty Hunters

And what if a user fails to pay his debt? Find them through Facebook!laughing_detective

A solar panel salesman who owed the Department of Education approximately $15,000.00 in student loans was 35 years old when he got caught through Facebook. Isaac Vicknair was encouraged by his managers to set up an account to connect with others in the solar field. Within a day after posting, he received a call from the office of the Financial Management Service. A portion of his wage would be garnered directly from his employers unless he arranged a payment plan.

Gary Nitzkin, a credit collection attorney attests that his company poses as attractive users on Facebook to lure debt absconders into becoming friends with them and further set them up to reveal their whereabouts and any assets and properties they can take as payment for debts.

AJM Leasing posted a bounty for Jennifer Moss and Bruce Strickland and sent it to all their Facebook contacts if they do not turn in the 2004 Grand Prix which they failed to pay after they both lost their jobs. The couple claims that the leasing company humiliated them to all their friends and family just to get back what they owe.

Melanie Beacham filed a civil suit in Pinellas County Circuit Court against MarkOne Financial after one of its debt collectors sent her family messages through Facebook asking them to inform her that she should contact the agency. This is clearly harassment, in the form of embarrassing the creditor to those close to her.

Even life insurance companies are now joining in the bandwagon of using Facebook against their clients. Manulife decided to discontinue Nathalie Blanchard’s benefits because she was seen smiling in some pictures posted on Facebook. She was diagnosed with major depression. Apparently, when depressed, you should not ever smile.

A popular adage goes: keep your friends close.. keep your enemies even closer.. Facebook has definitely proven to be a great way for credit and insurance companies to do this. So.. Have you reviewed your friends list lately?

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