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Keywords:

  • credit;
  • decision making;
  • risk;
  • trust

This analysis of the U.S. credit industry explores how lenders evaluate people during the loan application process. They use a variety of risk-assessment techniques in conjunction with trust-building mechanisms that I call relational proxies. The relational proxies that lenders rely on are behavioral impressions, reputation information, and financial narratives that explain information on credit reports. Lenders use this subjectively evaluated trust assessment interdependently with standardized financial information to enhance their decision-making process. Face-to-face evaluation of potential borrowers is mediated by institutional rules meant to reduce the need for trust. However, for the lenders in this study, a good borrower is always a trustworthy borrower.