Trigger Leads – What They Are and What to Do About Them
What is a mortgage trigger lead?
When an applicant applies for a mortgage loan and the lender runs credit, the credit bureaus register a specific code that tells their system that the requestor (Home Ownership Financial or the lender) has permission to run credit. These codes tell national Credit Reporting Agencies (Experian, Trans Union, Equifax) that a consumer is shopping for a mortgage. The credit bureaus take the consumer’s information, which they already have in the consumer’s credit file, and turn these into “trigger leads” that are then sold to other lenders for marketing purposes. They are initiated or “triggered” by the credit inquiry on a consumer’s application for a certain type of credit and are normally sold in bulk lots and when a company signs up to receive them. They can even request to only receive leads from certain groups of consumers based on age groups, specific credit scores, specific neighborhoods, current mortgage payments, etc.
Who is selling the information?
The information is being sold by the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. It is NOT being sold by Home Ownership Financial or the service we use to access the credit reports.
What happens when a company buys a trigger lead?
Soon after applying for the mortgage loan, the applicant may start receiving dozens of phone calls, e-mails, or physical mail from other lenders wanting their business.
Is the credit bureau’s sale of this information legal?
Unfortunately, yes, it is legal as long as the credit bureaus as well as the company buying the information meet certain legal requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) feels that it can provide the consumer with more options when they are looking to buy or refinance a home. The drawback is that the consumer often gets bombarded with unwanted calls, emails, and mail because of this.
How can I reduce these solicitations?
There are ways that a borrower can help prevent themselves from ending up on a trigger list:
- Register at optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). This will opt a consumer out of unwanted solicitations for five years and it costs nothing. It does usually take one to two weeks for it to take effect so the earlier this is done, the better.
- Sign up at the Do Not Call Registry, donotcall.gov. This is also free and should take effect within 24 hours, however a borrower may have already ended up on a trigger lead list prior to registering so could still receive calls for up to 31 days. Being on the DNC list does not mean all calls will stop. A consumer can still get calls for political reasons, from charitable organizations, survey calls, collection calls and some that are labeled “information calls.” Some brokers have used this last one as a loophole to get around the DNC registry. They will claim they are not trying to sell a person anything, but they are just providing information as to other options available.
- Sign up at DMAchoice.com. This will stop loan offers and other offers from coming to your physical mailbox. There is a $2 cost and it covers you for 10 years.
Will these steps prevent unwanted solicitations from other companies?
No. There are too many ways for companies to get someone’s personal information. Everyone has put their phone number out into the cyber world for one reason or another. Because of technology there are several ways to obtain phone numbers and other personal information. These are just some actions that can be taken to reduce the solicitations.