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funt also FUNT

noun [countable]

someone who finds it very difficult to get a loan because they have a poor credit history

'Too few seem to be making it clear that if someone has a debt problem, consolidating the debt without addressing why the problem arose in the first place could well prove disastrous, and could put that person on the slippery slope towards becoming a funt.'

House of Commons Hansard Debates18th June 2008

Struggling to get a mortgage, pension, insurance, or even a credit card? If so, watch out, in these financially tumultuous times you could be labelled a funt!

being a funt can prevent you from making simple card-based purchases or even opening a savings account

Looking and sounding disturbingly like a swear word, funt is a contraction of the expression financial untouchable, occurring as a countable noun in both lower and upper case form. It describes a person who finds it extremely difficult to borrow money because their credit history – a kind of track record of borrowing money and repaying it – is so questionable that banks and institutions consider them too high a risk.

Though, on the surface, the word funt seems to describe someone who has been financially irresponsible, evidence suggests that there are a growing number of people who are saddled with this label when they don't entirely deserve it. These include, for example, people who have been oversold credit, or who have fallen victim to some administrative error which then places them on a credit 'blacklist'. And it's no fun being a funt, which can prevent you from making simple card-based purchases or even opening a savings account.

Among those raising awareness of the plight of funts is British MP Stephen Ladyman, who in June 2008 initiated a House of Commons debate on government support for funts. Ladyman points out that not having access to credit can have a huge impact on a person's life, and the consequences are often completely out of proportion to the financial mistakes that caused the bad credit record in the first place.

Background to funt

The word funt was coined in 2008 by Richard Rubin, who defines it variously as 'a person ostracized by lenders', 'an obscene term for an ex valued banking customer' and 'a non-credit worthy person for the unforeseeable future'. Rubin, stating that he knows what it's like to be treated like a funt, has set up a website where people with debt-related problems can share their concerns (this is an offshoot of Rubin's www.reallyworried.com, a site where people can share problems, experiences and advice on a range of issues).

Another recent coinage occurring in related contexts is the tongue-in-cheek expression NINJA loan (also ninja loan). NINJA is an acronym of No Income, No Job, no Assets, and refers to lending to 'risky' borrowers who are likely to default on repayments. A ninja is in fact a Japanese warrior with special skills, often featuring in cartoons, films and popular fiction. The use of ninja makes the expression instantly memorable, and also neatly links to the earlier term NINA (No Income, No Assets) used in the US mortgage industry.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 6th May 2009.

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