Tuesday 19 March 2019

Caravan holidays and Penneys clothes shopping - how to throw the bank off your trail on social media

A two-pronged action plan on how to throw your bank off
A two-pronged action plan on how to throw your bank off
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

So banks are now officially checking the social media of mortgage applicants.

With no opt-out apparent, privacy-conscious house hunters may need to take other measures. Here’s a two-pronged action plan on how to throw your bank off your social media trail.


1. Lock your real social accounts for three months

This is the first crucial bit. If you’re worried the bank is going to trawl through your accounts looking for your boastful betting slips or champagne binges, you need to change your social media’s settings to ‘private’ mode. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to do. Here’s how.

a) Facebook: tap the three lines on the top right corner of your phone screen. Then ‘settings and privacy’. Now ‘privacy settings’. Tap ‘limit who can see past posts’.

This means that only your existing Facebook friends, or those tagged in such posts, can see the content of all your past Facebook posts.

Now go back to ‘privacy settings’ and change ‘who can see the people, pages and lists you follow’ to ‘friends’. Again, this will stop snoopers from drawing conclusions about you.

b) Twitter: tap your account picture in the top left corner of your phone screen. Then ‘settings and privacy’. Now ‘privacy and safety’. Tap the box that says ‘protect your tweets’ to make sure only existing followers see your feed. (You’ll need to make sure the bank isn’t one of your existing followers.)

c) Instagram: tap the head symbol on the bottom right of your phone screen, then the three vertically stacked dots on the top right of the screen. You’ll see an option called ‘private account’ which, if tapped, will limit visibility of your posts to existing followers.

Read more: 'Big Brother' AIB now spying on customers' social media accounts

2. Set up separate temporary accounts

This is equally important if you worry that your application might be affected due to the bank not getting access to any social media information about you.

So give them something to look at – set up a few temporary accounts that make you look like a sure bet. Make sure to post a nice profile photo of yourself in sensible, accountant-friendly, middle-of-the-road attire.

Now you’re ready to post a few samples of bank-compatible content. Try one or more of these suggestions:

a) A photo of you coming out of Penneys with the caption: “That’s the season’s clothes-shopping sorted.”

b) A ’holiday’ picture of you posing in front of a caravan in Bettystown with a caption that declares you’re putting off “foreign holidays” for a few years to “prioritise” your saving programme.

c) Fake baby photos with you and a Henry the Hippo junior saver piggy bank.

d) Another fake photo of you pretending to be in the scouts. (Bankers love order, timidity and predictability.)

You’re good to go!

Even the dowdiest, narkiest risk assessor will think you’re a reliable, boring and very positive mortgage prospect.       

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