It might be time to start unfriending some of your buddies on Facebook.
Facebook was just approved for a new patent this week that might be problematic for people seeking loans. Especially people of color.
The social network acquired technologies that may be used by lenders to determine if potential borrowers are at risk of developing poor credit. CNN Money reports that lenders would have access to the credit scores of your Facebook friends. Judging by their credit scores, a loan could be rejected. It's guilt by association.
Facebook hasn't confirmed whether they would use the patent for assessing credit-worthiness.
This sort of technology is not necessarily problematic for people who have good credit scores. But for those who are on the edge, it should set off some alarms. And those folks are likely to be people of color.
There is a major disparity in access to credit between Latinos and Blacks and their White counterparts. Compared with 2001, lending in 2012 was down 45 percent for Latinos and down 50 percent for Blacks, according to the Urban Institute. It was in that period that predatory loans to people of color became a problem of epidemic proportions.
Compared with Whites, more Latinos and Blacks were victims to predatory lending and subprime loans. A Center for Responsible Lending shows that they were 60 percent more likely to receive a high-risk loan.
"But if we're going to use data like that we have to use in a way protects consumers from disparate impact and hopefully brings more people into the credit system without harming people." — Rachel Schneider, senior vice president at the Center for Financial Services Innovation
Access to credit continues to be a major problem for Blacks and Latinos and in many ways has stifled their ability to build wealth. If people cannot accrue manageable debt, it's hard to buy a home, go to college, or even start a small business. Access to credit is tied directly to the wealth gap in this country.