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Could your list of Facebook friends hurt your credit?

Flickr user Wonderlane

When it comes to getting credit and being deemed a good risk for a loan, the choices made by lenders can be hard to understand. Many potential borrowers who earn a paycheck and pay their bills but don't have a credit history can be seen as untrustworthy.

Now, we're seeing some lenders look to social media and Internet use to determine whether someone can afford to borrow.

Michigan Radio Social Media Producer Kimberly Springer says there is a long pre-Facebook history of lenders asking friends, or even friends of friends whether a person is reliable.

While the practice isn't unusual, there is now a larger amount of data available. Along with examining your social connections and how long you've maintained these friendships, potential lenders can incorporate your online shopping and spending habits into their decision.

Right now, Springer says a lot of this credit monitoring and assessing is happening in countries with a less established banking or credit history system than in the United States.

"It's being piloted in other countries; who knows what it will look like when it gets here,” Springer says.

So what can you do if you're concerned?

Springer suggests simply not publishing information you wouldn't want lenders to have, and potentially taking a more selective look at whom you're connected with.

And as the practice expands, there could be updated regulation in the future.

"We have laws that are protecting us in terms of our financial data ... to stop financial institutions from discriminating in terms of giving people credit. But those laws don't cover all of this new digital data."

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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