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Trigger Leads

And We’re Off! I applied for credit and now my phone is ringing non-stop – HELP!

Loan Trigger Leads Can Be Very Annoying-

Have you ever applied for a mortgage and then shortly thereafter found yourself wondering how in the world so many people got your phone number? This happens regardless of whether you inquire through an online source like LendingTree.com, LowerMyBills.com, GetSmart.com, or your local bank because of a little known, yet widely written about, mortgage marketing tactic called “Loan Trigger Leads.”

What is a Loan Trigger Lead?

After you submit a loan request, the first thing that many lenders will do – some online companies will do this before they even talk to you – is pull a credit report that includes information from the three major credit bureaus Experian®, TransUnion®, and Equifax®. This request for a credit report will then “trigger” an alert to these credit bureaus that the borrower whose credit they are checking is in the market for a loan.  These alerts are then packaged along with the applicant’s private information (contact data, select loan criterion and credit score range) and sold to other lenders, typically those that are far less established/reputable than the lenders that actually pulled the credit to begin with. I imply that the buyers of the trigger leads are “lower quality lenders” because there is no criteria other than money required to get those leads.  Many other sources, such as those websites listed above, require the lender to be approved and to agree to strict standards before they can purchase your inquiry from the application supplier. Yahoo! Finance does a great job of explaining the entire trigger lead system in detail.

There are Two Ways of Looking at This-

Competition is good! You are correct, competition is good. In fact, it’s great!  The problem is that there is too much competition and many borrowers simply get tired of the phone calls and they drop the subject of getting a mortgage altogether.  Think about this; you apply online and your legitimate loan request made through, say, LendingTree.com, is sold to five lenders as most of LendingTree.com’s applications are.  Beyond that, three of those five lenders that bought your loan request pull your credit through each of the three credit bureaus.  You now have 14 different lenders/brokers calling you (the original five, plus the nine trigger leads that were generated when three of the lenders pulled your credit from the three bureaus) YIKES, it’s time for a new phone number!!

Hey, what happened to my privacy? This argument is fairly self-explanatory; your information is being sold, without your consent, to anyone and it is completely legal, per the FTC,  unless you chose to opt out several days before you applied for the mortgage.

How You Can Opt Out-

You can either visit optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-567-8688.  Your request is to be processed within five days but it may take up to 60 days before all prescreened offers stop; if you choose the electronic option, you are only opted out for five years and if you choose the permanent opt out by mail option, you can print a form, sign it and mail it in for a permanent status.  You can also protect yourself from prescreened calls (not calls from the original source of your application) by putting yourself on the National Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222)

Already Applied; Didn’t Opt Out Ahead of Time-

Ask the following questions of the callers as they call you:

  • Where did you get my information? If it’s not a source you recognize as being the source of your inquiry, go on…
  • Do you have my Social Security Number? If so, what is it?  If you provided your Social Security Number when you applied for the mortgage but the caller doesn’t have it available to recite, you can be 99% sure that you are dealing with a trigger lead buying company because it is against the law for the credit bureaus to sell your Social Security Number.
  • Who gave you permission to call me?
  • Why should I be willing to speak with you when you weren’t referred to me by someone I trust?
  • How are your mortgage rates determined and what impacts the rate you say you can get me today?
  • What are all of your closing costs and the closing costs of all third parties? (Lender, title, state taxes and pre-paid escrow items)

Additional Resources

Tips on How to Use a Credit Card

Used wisely, a credit card can help you build a strong credit report and help you reach other financial goals.

Credit cards have become a vital part of financial life. They are integral in helping you to build a credit history that will enable you toobtain other lines of credit such as car loans and mortgages. But for some people, the temptation and instant gratification of “buy now, pay later” is too much. They soon find their debt load spiraling out of control. Don’t let that happen to you. Here are some tips on how to safely use your credit card:

Don’t spend more than you have. Look at your income and your monthly expenses. Deduct how much you have to spend on utility bills, insurance, and other financial obligations to determine how much you can afford to spend on your credit card. Remember that although your credit card is plastic, the money you spend with it is real. Your credit card company will give you a limit on how much you are allowed to spend, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to spend that much. Impose your own personal and reasonable credit card limit and stick to it.

Pay on schedule. In addition to receiving your credit card statement in the mail, you can also request an online notification of when payment is due. Mark this date on a calendar and make a commitment to yourself to pay in full and on time. Late payments lower your credit score and may also incur a late payment fee, yet are easily avoidable. And remember, the longer you carry a balance on a credit card, the more your purchases will end up costing due to the interest you will be charged each month on the outstanding balance. If you need to make a large purchase with your credit card, be sure to create a plan to pay it off as soon as possible.

Build a credit history. It’s important to build a good credit history with your credit card company. One way to do this is to use your credit card, say, for gas purchases only. This way, you’ll be spending your money on something that you have to buy anyway, and will begin to reap the benefits of establishing yourself as having a solid history of regular charges and repayments. This positive credit history will help you get loans and other lines of credit. Using a credit card wisely is one of the first steps in establishing your financial profile.

Start small and spend smartly. By starting small and maintaining a regular repayment schedule, you can stay in control of your finances. Just be sure not to succumb to the temptation of credit cards or you might do yourself more harm than good. Be honest with yourself about what you can truly afford so you can decide how to use credit cards to best meet your financial needs.

Courtesy of LendingTree.com Smart Borrower Center (specific article)