The Internet and Your Net Worth

Posted by on February 2, 2012

“Your digital self can make it difficult to get credit or insurance”

Did you know the types of online ads that are aimed at you are developed using your personal data?  And do you know where this data comes from?  Yup!  You!  Pretty much everything you type, upload, download, and reload is captured by Facebook, Google, Twitter, Tumblr, and many other social media companies and businesses that use the Internet to sell to you, buy from you, and connect with you.   Why should you be aware of what you do and say online?  Because your current and future financial prosperity depends on it.  If you are working to improve your financial literacy and financial net worth, then consider the following:

  • Software is sophisticated and powerful and can enable your insurers, employers and creditors to track what you do and say online.  They can use this information to decide whether to increase or decrease what you pay them for the services they sell to you, and whether or not to give you a job, or allow you to keep the one you have.
  • Internet companies help advertisers target you with advertisements that are tailored to your individual characteristics such as your residential zip code, the stores you buy from, credit balances you maintain (or don’t maintain), and your online behavior, including the words you type to search for information, products and services.
  • The people in your social network and your likes and dislikes play a part in determining the types of advertisements you receive.  They may even be used to evaluate you when you apply for a loan or credit card.
  • Companies (such as Spokeo) gather data for employers about current employees and future employees.  This data can have a positive or negative impact on you current expenses, futures earnings, and net worth.
If you want to increase your net worth, then don’t take for granted the data you are creating on the Internet.  That data, including images of you in a drunken stupor at your buddy’s Super Bowl party might be used by your employer to deny you that promotion you wanted.  And, you might never know that was the reason.  Wonder how much money that photo really cost you?
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