The company which provides the credit scoring used to make decisions on 90pc of loan applications in the US is considering scouring social networking profiles to determine the chances of prompt repayment.
Fair Isaac spokesman Anthony Sprauve told the Wall Street Journal that although the company had no immediate plans, that "there could come a time where certain social media could be predictive and we're looking at that".
Many smaller loan companies in the US are already ahead of the curve and regularly examine profiles belonging to applicants for evidence that people lied during applications.
Companies look for suggestions that employment details shared online are different from that given in applications, or for hints that they have recently lost their job, which would make repayment less likely.
Some companies also scour eBay feedback for small companies which apply for a loan and look for negative reviews. Other firms admit to looking at the devices used to log-in: expensive iPhones or cheap PCs at an internet café, for instance, could paint very different pictures of a potential borrower’s disposable income and spending habits.
The companies currently using social networks told the Wall Street Journal that they provide a way to assess potential borrowers who may have a poor or non-existent credit record.
LendUp co-founder Sasha Orloff told the paper: "It's one of the tools we use to do underwriting. Do you have 4,000 friends but none are that close, or do you have 30 people but they're very close? There are ways to measure how engaged and how strong your community ties are.”