Can Social Networking Ruin Your Financial Life?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Recently, SCHUFA – the largest credit agency in Germany – announced a plan to troll Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites using web crawlers to find information about their customers' credit worthiness. From now on, Germany's credit applicants might find it harder to get approved if their status updates announced plans to make big purchases or skip bill payments.

And while that may not seem like a big deal for U.S.-based consumers, it does bring up a bigger worldwide question – can what we share on social networks really come back to haunt us? The experts say it can. In fact, your daily tweets could be hurting everything from your job to your relationship.

Job Hunting Woes

If you've been out of work for a while and haven't had a successful interview, it may not be how you're answering questions like "Where do you see yourself in five years?" but how potential employers see you now. While the National Labor Relations Board says workers have the right to bad mouth the boss (or the company) on Facebook, that doesn't mean they're not checking up on you.

"Regardless of the legal issues, potential employers look at candidates' social media behavior," said Marv Russell, a global HR executive and author of Finding Your Internship: What Employers Want You to Know. Even if you aren't discussing potential jobs (or employers) online, what you've said in the past can come back to haunt you. "Social media has an eternal memory," Russell says. If you've smack talked your old boss in the past, you may not get a call back now.

There Goes the Promotion

Even if you're gainfully employed, you should be wary of how you portray yourself online. NLRB rulings are great in theory, but Russell warns, "If you work in any employment at-will state, there is nothing keeping any employer from terminating you." Instead of risking it, he says, "trust if any employer is watching your social media and thinks your behavior is negative reflection on the business you can get terminated."