Your Online Reputation Score is Your New Credit Score
Like many people, a less-than-ideal credit score has probably affected you at some point in your life. Whether it was an auto loan, a home loan, or an apartment rental, you may recall a feeling of gnawing anxiety waiting for your credit check to come back, wondering if you had the credit needed to buy that big-ticket item or sign a lease on that ideal apartment.
These days your online reputation functions the same way as your credit report. Although no official score is associated with an online reputation, Internet searches are widely used by landlords, employers, even government departments; screening out applicants for loans, jobs, grants, and almost anything imaginable. Online reputation has become one of the key determinants of whether you gain access to a well-paid job, an affordable home mortgage, rental housing in a safe and desirable location.
This article will explore just how important your online reputation score has become, and provide a few simple steps that can be taken to protect it.
Accumulating a Positive Online Reputation
Your credit history is a way of tracking spending behavior and habits over the years, showing how disciplined you are when it comes to repaying loans. Borrowers who have had a poor record of managing their loans and repayments find their ability to secure loans in the future compromised significantly. A credit record accumulates over time, and a damaged credit score cannot be repaired by just a few months of positive repayment history.
In much the same way, your online reputation is cumulative and stubbornly difficult to change. Everything you have said or done on the Web, as well as what has been said about you, can be brought to light for public consumption at the click of a mouse. All that a prospective employer, landlord, or loan agent has to do to get a sense of your personal qualities is type your name into Google and scroll through a few pages of search engine generated listings.
Like many people, you probably use the Web for a diverse set of tasks and activities, and that makes an online reputation extremely difficult to monitor and repair. Fortunately, online reputation management services such as Reputation.com have emerged, dedicated to keeping your online reputation in good repair.
Getting Past the Online Reputation Screeners
Online reputations have become important tools for screening access to many desirable things in life, and like a credit score, can be used against you––denying entry into that career or housing situation for which you are otherwise well qualified.
You may have a perfectly acceptable credit score and yet have holes in your online reputation that no amount of good credit can fix. The prospective employer nixes your resume, fearing that hiring you will invite controversy or trouble down the road. The prospective landlord classifies you as a risk and moves on to the next tenant application in a heartbeat.
Is it fair? Absolutely not. And just as with a credit score, things completely out of your control can easily impact the image you present online. With credit cards, the problem often involves identity theft and the havoc that unauthorized spending wreaks. With online reputation, it may be a co-worker or customer with a grudge, spreading malicious rumors about you on an online forum.
- It may be a legal or police matter in which you were tangentially involved, and which remains on your permanent online record.
- It may be something you posted years ago, and which no longer reflects who you are.
- It may even be unclear where the reputation-harming content is coming from.
- But one thing is certain––if that information about you exists online, it will continue to harm your reputation until you take proactive measures to minimize its effect.