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‘Cash advance,’ ‘foreclosure’ top list of fast-rising online search terms

Daniel Ray

If Internet searches for the terms “cash advance” and “foreclosure” were songs on the Billboard charts, they’d be rising with a bullet.

They’re among the fastest-rising financial search terms, according to Internet research firm comScore. In research released July 14, the firm says that’s part of an overall pattern: Searches for financial terms online in the past year have turned sharply downbeat.

The number of subprime applicants for credit cards has jumped 30 percent, comScore found in its research, which compared the first quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2008. It defines subprime applicants as those with credit scores of 660 or lower. Prime applications fell 16 percent; overall online credit card applications were up 8 percent.

Credit card search terms go downscale
Total searches (millions)
Search term
Q1 2007
Q1 2008
Percentage increase
Bad credit
3.71
4.06
9%
Cash advance
0.64
1.36
113%
Credit card
15.77
18.93
20%
Foreclosure
4.18
7.03
68%
Mortgage
21.69
24.58
13%

“During challenging economic times, it’s not surprising to see dramatic shifts in consumer behavior in the online banking and credit card industries,” comScore Vice President Kevin Levitt said.

The challenges are also shown by which terms are being searched for more often.

“Mortgage” is still the king of financial search terms online, searched for more than 24 million times in the first quarter of 2008. It increased, but by only 13 percent.

“Credit card” wasn’t far behind, at 19 million in Q1 ’08. It increased by 20 percent.

The percentage big gainers were “cash advance,” rising 113 percent, albeit from a small base. “Foreclosure” also rose sharply, up 68 percent to 7 million searches in the quarter.

Somewhat surprisingly, “bad credit” rose relatively little. Perhaps it’s because so many people in the mortgage crisis skipped right past “bad,” going straight from OK to desperate.

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