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Credit reporting agencies and other companies are now watching your posts online to make sure you (or someone pretending to be you) aren’t committing fraud.
Equifax, Experian, PayPal and Intuit are all exploring how posts on sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter can help them verify consumer identities — and show when they’re lying about money, Bloomberg says.
The companies can only see what is posted publicly, but that’s still a wealth of information they previously did not have access to. Worse, you may be handing over your data to them without realizing it.
Many companies now allow users to log in through their Facebook or LinkedIn accounts instead of creating another site-specific account. Those social networks provide tools that let the companies then automatically import information from your profile, Bloomberg says.
The main use of this information is to verify your identity — to make sure you are who you say you are when you’re buying something online. The information a business has for an online payment, such as phone number and address, could be matched to other records found online. Photos tagged with location data could be used to verify where a customer lives.
There’s no indication that this snooping affects your credit score, but where you could get in trouble is if you’re lying about your income, Bloomberg says. Equifax in particular is taking interesting steps to prevent fraud:
Equifax is teaming up with governments, both state and federal, to help detect whether citizens who are receiving [government] benefits are truly eligible. The bureau must verify identity, state of residence, whether a criminal history exists and income level, an area where [division president Rajib] Roy says social media has potential.
Got that? Facebook photos of your cars, Pinterest pins of products you own, and Foursquare check-ins at airports and restaurants could all potentially be used to pass judgment on your income, Roy says. Even if you’re telling the truth, that’s kind of awkward. It’s becoming more important than ever to make sure you have control of your information and how it appears online.