Does your social media profile have an impact on your credit rating and potential mortgage abroad?

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Simon Conn (pictured) is a financial advisor specializing in overseas real estate

A growing number of lenders and insurers are using online activities, including social media posts and profiles, to help them decide on the suitability of candidates. Is it time to take more care in managing your social media profiles?

More and more, lenders are now crossing the information submitted to them with what is in the public domain. They can check social media profiles in addition to reviewing credit history records, status and property searches, and looking for information that contradicts an applicant’s claims. If lenders don’t feel comfortable for some reason, they can deny the application without disclosing their reasons, which can be frustrating and delay a mortgage application.

Last year, it was announced that China was testing a new social credit rating system. This system essentially assessed applicants on how they spend their money and behave on social media, and takes into consideration who the applicants associate with, both online and in CCTV surveillance. This system is currently under study for Europe.

ABC Finance conducted a survey in the UK which showed that more than a third of those polled believed their social credit rating would be either average or bad, meaning they would likely face negative consequences. This report indicates that many applicants may need to consider their online behavior before applying for an overseas or UK mortgage.

Just like applying for a new job, applicants should review their online business before submitting forms to a lender or insurer. Here are some key things to consider:

Facebook:

As a diverse media service designed to connect all age groups, it is the most popular and easy to find platform. A simple Google search of your name can bring up your Facebook account.

Here is what we recommend:

– Check your profile photos: don’t choose an unflattering image to represent yourself and delete all previous images that might put you in a bad light. Even if your profile is set to private, lenders can still view your entire profile photo album.

– Remove photo tags from unprofessional images: Make sure you are not tagged on inappropriate images that may undermine your professionalism, such as posts showing overspending, extreme opinions, or unreliable. Lenders may be reluctant to approve your application if your pictures brag about excessive lifestyle habits that don’t match your income or statements.

– Set your account to private: If you really don’t want to worry about removing anything that might trigger red flags, make sure your account is set to private while you’re in the process of setting up a mortgage. There are different types of privacy settings on Facebook, be sure to choose “friends only” or “only me” to be secure.

LinkedIn:

It is potentially the most important platform when it comes to your employability and financial reliability.

Make sure your profile information matches the details you provided in your document to your lender, and check the following:

– Keep it relevant: while it is good to emphasize a long period of constant employment, for past roles you can keep those titles and dates of employment.

– Validate your skills: LinkedIn recommendations are a way for people in your network to validate your skills and experience in your professional field. This is another way to show your credibility to a lender.

Instagram:

As a visual platform consisting mostly of images and videos, the best practice in this regard is to set your account to private. Lenders can view your posts, read comments, and watch your Instagram stories without following you or having an active account. Your safest bet is to change your privacy during your mortgage process to avoid running into problems.

Twitter:

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform where users can discuss, debate and share their views. It is important to be aware of what you are sharing when considering a mortgage.

– Be aware of what you are saying: try not to use offensive or inappropriate words. An error in judgment could affect your process with a lender. For example, there should be nothing to complain about the banks.

– Review your retweets: do not retweet anything that could harm your profile. It might seem funny at the time, but remember that your retweets are showing up on your profile.

Conclusion

For those dealing with overseas-based lenders, be aware that content you have shared on social media in English may not be understood when translated into another language and may be misinterpreted or even offensive by because of the culture of that particular country.

Also, outside of social media, you want to make the best impression on your lender, so it’s always a good idea to have phone best practices and manage your risk. Mortgages can be a long and frustrating process, so be prepared to apply your social media etiquette to your phone conversations. It will be good practice to leave voicemail messages and sue someone. A lender can be more receptive to someone who is professional and polite.

In summary, businesses are committed to responsible lending and will spend significant time analyzing data that can improve lending decisions. It will be the same in many countries. Therefore, changing your privacy settings on social media accounts and reviewing what you share can benefit your application and, in turn, speed up your mortgage process.

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