NEW YORK (MainStreet)Not a lot of us understand where our credit score comes from. We pretty much get that it has to do with paying our bills on time. We know that it's hard to repair once damaged and we know that, by and large, it's pretty important. Beyond that the pieces that move in the background are, usually, pretty much a mystery.
Well, things may be about to get even more complicated, as financial agencies have begun exploring social media to verify identities and evaluate your credit score.
As Bloomberg News reported last week, payment and credit reporting agencies have begun testing ways to integrate social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, into the financial process. The goal is to find new sources of information to help determine an individual's creditworthiness, as well as to confirm people's identities online.
Equifax, one of the three national credit reporting agencies (CRAs), declined to comment for this story, but did issue a press release indicating that the company does not currently use social media as a source of information.
However, the statement went on to say, "Equifax is exploring whether unstructured data, including social media data, could potentially be used with structured, attributable data to develop analytical models that help better assess risk and verify identity."
In other words, even if your credit report doesn't currently reflect the state of your Twitter feed, sometime soon it might.
An industry term of art, unstructured data simply means any form of information that doesn't lend itself to traditional databases. For the most part this applies to data that is non-numeric, such as text or media. How many cookies you've had in the last year is an example of structured data. A Facebook post about your new recipe, or photos of you at the Mrs. Fields, are unstructured.