Those annoying, unsolicited calls from companies selling products or services may not be random. As mortgage brokers, we hear stories from our clients who submitted loan applications through us about an increase in calls from telemarketers offer deals on mortgages. It turns out that the three major credit reporting bureaus collect and sell information about consumers that can be used to target them for offers by providers of similar products and services. The marketing tool is referred to as a trigger lead and is not limited to the mortgage industry. Car dealerships, insurance companies and other businesses offering products or services to consumers can benefit from targeting someone who they know from the trigger lead is in the market for what the business has to offer.
What benefit does a consumer receive from being targeted through trigger leads?
MortgageDepot is a mortgage broker company, so we understand the benefit of shopping around for a mortgage loan instead of relying upon only a single lender. We take our client’s loan application and look for the best mortgage terms available among all of the lenders we work with in the marketplace.
Smart consumers know the value of shopping around to get the best deal for the products and services they need, so the argument that targeting someone in the market for a mortgage actually helps the person by giving them additional options from which to choose may appear to have some validity. However, the challenge when receiving a call generated by a trigger lead is that a consumer has no way of distinguishing between a legitimately better offer and a deceptive one designed merely to lure the consumer into changing lenders.
How does a trigger lead work?
When someone shopping for a mortgage loan, a car or any product or service requiring information about the person’s credit from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion, one or more of the credit bureaus creates a trigger lead. The trigger lead contains information about the consumer including the fact the individual is seeking a particular type of financing. The lead is quickly sold and used by another lender to contact the consumer in an effort to persuade the person to change lenders.
The practice of selling and buying trigger leads is not illegal as of right now, but the unsolicited calls generated through trigger leads do more harm than merely being annoying. Telemarketers may use them as an opportunity to mislead a consumer. Callers have been known to contact consumers and pretend to be working on the consumer’s loan application. This could result in the consumer giving out personal identifying information that may be used to engage in identity theft.
Protection from harm caused by trigger leads
MortgageDepot recommends that our borrowers protect themselves from unsolicited calls generated by trigger leads by taking the following steps:
- Register with the National Do Not Call Registry operated by the Federal Trade Commission.
- Register with OptOutPrescreen.com to prevent having their names sold by credit bureaus.
- Register with the Direct Marketing Association to stop junk mail, including unsolicited offers sent through the mail.
MortgageDepot values the safety of its borrowers
MortgageDepot borrowers who receive unsolicited offers of financing after submitting an application through us should and speak to one of our loan officers.