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What the Tinder Swindler teaches us about credit

If you haven’t seen Netflix’s latest true crime documentary yet, have you been living under a rock?!

The Tinder Swindler is about, well, what it says on the tin: a con man who pays for his lavish lifestyle by scamming multiple women he meets on Tinder into taking out credit card after credit card, and loan after loan.

Getting conned cost the women more than just their time and heartbreak: it also led to significant financial damage, including to their credit scores. We might not have had millions stolen from us, but in the grand scheme of our finances, our credit scores are one of those things that we know we should care about, but maybe don’t pay enough attention to.

Our community pointed out that one of the main things that shocked them in the documentary is how little regulation banks had in place to protect the women, as they took out more and more money.

Often we think about our credit scores as a barrier to getting the financial products we want (like a mortgage!) and they often are, but it’s also possible to end up deep in credit card debt.

A brand new investigation in the Guardian highlighted how underground illegal lenders are targeting even those that can’t access mainstream credit, making the problem even more complex.

We often view credit as neutral, and informed by just our own monetary choices. But racism in credit is rife. Before credit scores were invented, loan eligibility depended on face-to-face application processes, where it was easy for bias to go unchecked. Structural discrimination, however, means that even if your credit score can’t see your race, bias still exists.

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