Don’t Become a Target for “Trigger Lead” Buyers!

Q:We recently applied for a mortgage to refinance our home. Within a few days, we were getting phone calls all day and night from other mortgage companies trying to sell us a loan. We only talked to one mortgage company. How did the other mortgage companies get our phone number? We put our phone number the “do not call” list a couple of years ago, so how can they call us? 

A: You are a victim of what are known as “trigger leads.”

When you apply for a mortgage, the mortgage company pulls a credit report to check your credit history. That is a normal part of the loan approval process.

But what many people don’t know, is that once your credit report has been pulled by a mortgage company, it sets off a “trigger” that automatically puts your name on a list that credit reporting agencies can sell to other mortgage companies. Telemarketers for those companies get your name, phone number and other personal information and call you because they know you are in the market for a new mortgage. They typically offer “too good to be true” deals in hopes of getting you to switch to their mortgage company. In some case, they actually lie by claiming to have your loan application and say they are “just following up to get a little more information.”

Now that the refinance boom of 2003-2004 is long over, many mortgage companies are desperately trying to find ways to keep their loan volumes up. This stiff competition has led some companies to buy trigger leads to try and drum up some business. Apparently, by contacting a mortgage company and credit reporting agency, you are effectively giving these companies “permission” to offer you a mortgage loan, and thereby get around the “do no call” law.

If you want to see a “horror story” about what could happen to you if your information is sold to trigger lead buyers, click here to see a CBS News video report on the dangers of trigger leads.

As a mortgage company owner myself, I find this practice to be disgusting. I think it is a gross violation of our clients’ privacy rights. Unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do to stop the credit reporting agencies from selling trigger leads, so we tell our clients what they can do to stop the calls.

You can opt-out of the trigger lists by going to this credit reporting industry

Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that you have to “opt out” of something to which you never “opted in” in the first place, but that’s the way it works under current laws.

If you don’t have access to the Internet, you can also opt out of the trigger lists by calling their toll-free phone number: 1–888-567-8688

Most of us in the mortgage industry are opposed to selling trigger leads because they violate our clients’ privacy and subject them to unwanted telephone harassment.

Hopefully, if enough consumers will complain about their personal data being sold as trigger leads, laws will be changed to prevent credit reporting agencies from selling them in the future.

In the meantime, be sure to opt-out of the trigger lists on the credit reporting agencies’ database.