How Your Bank Spies On You

banksThere really is no way to avoid Big Brother corporations spying on you anymore, is there, short of living off the grid? Some nefarious new tactics from the bailed out banksters reported by the WallStreet Journal:

Big Banker is watching you—more closely than ever.

With lenders still skittish about making new loans, credit bureaus and others are hawking services that help banks probe deeply into your financial closet. The new offerings include ways to look at your rent and utility payments, figure out your income, gauge your home’s value and even rate your banking habits based on details like whether your direct deposits have stopped.

All of this could influence your financial freedom—not to mention the number of junk-mail solicitations you receive.

Ken Lin, CEO of Credit Karma, a credit-score information website, knew he had a good credit score. But when he recently applied for a new credit card, he was rejected: The lender had flagged him as a higher credit risk because the value of his California home had declined and his mortgage principal wasn’t declining—giving away that he has an interest-only mortgage.

“It’s a lot more than just your credit score today,” he says.

Your credit record still matters, of course. But here are some newer ways lenders and financial-services companies are sizing up your financial behavior and credit-worthiness:

Bank-depositor behavior scores. Fair Isaac, the creator of the widely used FICO credit score, is marketing bank-depositor behavior scores, which are used by banks to assess their own customers.

The scores are based on balances, deposit records and withdrawal activity, says Debb Gordon, a senior principal consultant at Fair Isaac.

Unlike credit scores—which are most affected after payments are late or credit is maxed out—behavior scores can be a leading indicator of credit risk. They also can help banks identify which of their customers might be ripe for additional services and rewards programs and which might need special attention because, for instance, their direct deposits had stopped.

Income estimation. This business took off earlier this year after the Federal Reserve allowed lenders to use credit bureaus’ income estimates to satisfy new requirements that credit-card applicants show the ability to pay their debts…

[continues in the WallStreet Journal]

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