May 15, 2017

Words that predict if a borrower will pay off a loan

Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Economists at the University of Columbia and the University of Delaware analyzed the top 10 most common words or phrases used in personal loan apps and found five are most associated with defaulting. They used data from Prosper, a peer-to-peer lending site. Here's a general rule to go by, as NYMag puts it:

"Generally, if someone tells you he will pay you back, he will not pay you back. The more assertive the promise, the more likely he will break it."

Words or phrases predicting default:

  1. God
  2. Promise
  3. Will pay
  4. Thank you
  5. Hospital

Breaking that down: If he or she tries to get sympathy, for instance, by telling you someone is in the hospital, he or she is unlikely to pay you back. If he or she uses the word "explain," payback is also unlikely.

Words or phrases predicting payback:

  1. Debt-free
  2. Lower interest rate
  3. After-tax
  4. Minimum payment
  5. Graduate

Breaking that down: Those with some level of understanding about finance appear more likely to make their loan payments. Plus, those talking about positive achievements or a plan of how to pay you back or past fulfilled commitments, like graduating or being debt-free, are likely to pay off loans.

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