Mortgage Loan Applications and Trigger Leads

Woman talking on telephone
•••

Tanya Constantine/Getty Images

Don't be caught off guard by unwittingly becoming a trigger lead. Everybody seems to regret it.

Say you decide to buy a home and get a mortgage. So, you call a mortgage broker recommended to you by your realtor, a family member, or a friend. Maybe this is a reputable mortgage lender with whom you've done business in the past. You complete a loan application and receive a letter of preapproval.

Then, out of the clear blue, a different mortgage lender calls you. The lender might say they are affiliated with a credit bureau or give some other red-flag reason for calling. Your suspicions are aroused. You wonder, how did they know you were getting a mortgage and why are they calling you?

When you apply for a loan, your mortgage professional pulls a copy of your credit report. This triggers an inquiry. The credit bureau then turns around and sells your name to other mortgage companies. It's not against the law for credit bureaus to sell your information to third-party vendors. This is called a trigger lead.

Stopping Trigger Leads

You're about to enter into one of the biggest transactions of your life, and the last thing you need is a loan rep calling you and offering up phony interest rates. Deal with a trusted professional, not some telemarketer. Don't ever buy anything over the phone.

Here are three ways to stop trigger lead harassment:

  • Put your name and phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. You can register your cell phone number as well. Do this at least a month before you apply for a loan because it takes 31 days to become effective. Once you register your phone number, the registration never expires. The phone number can only be removed from the do not call list if you make a request or the number is disconnected and reassigned.
  • To prevent mortgage lenders from sending you direct mail, you will need to register with DMAchoice to opt-out. ​When you register online it will cost $2.00, which you can charge to your credit card, but if you choose the mail option, it will cost an additional $3.00. Online registration is not only cheaper and more convenient but also offers the option to opt-out of solicitation emails and to add caregivers and the deceased to do not contact lists. This registration is good for 10 years.
  • Sign up for OptOutPrescreen. This will stop the four credit bureaus from selling your name as a trigger lead. They are Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows the sale of your name, but opting out online puts a stop to trigger leads for five years. If you want to opt-out forever, you have to mail in a form. The Federal Reserve reported that those who choose to opt out have higher credit scores than consumers who don't.

You might also ask your mortgage lender how you can prevent your name from becoming a trigger lead. Some mortgage lenders can give you a document disallowing the sale of your personal information, that you can sign at the time you receive the mortgage as well. Because the sale of your personal information can continue after the mortgage has been funded and closed. Who knows, you might be a targeted candidate for a mortgage refinance?

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.