Trigger Leads and How To Deal With Them

Trigger Leads are something that seems to be more prevalent and worrisome over the last few years. It would be common for Advantage Credit to get calls and/or emails once or twice a month regarding this practice but lately it has been several times a week.

So, what is a mortgage trigger lead? When a consumer fills out a loan application, they are also giving the lender permission to pull their credit. When a lender pulls credit, it is pulled using certain “codes” that they must use to show they have permissible purpose to pull credit. These codes trigger to the national Credit Reporting Agencies (Experian, Trans Union, Equifax) that a consumer is shopping for a mortgage. Be that a new mortgage or to refinance. The credit bureaus take the consumer’s information and turn these into trigger leads that are then sold to other lenders. It is important for the consumer to know that their information is not being sold by the loan officer that is pulling their credit, or their company. Nor is their information is being sold by the third-party credit reporting agency they are using to pull the credit. The borrower’s information is actually being sold by the three major credit bureaus – Experian Trans Union and Equifax.

At this point the consumer may start receiving dozens of phone calls, emails or physical mail from other lenders wanting their business. Is this legal? Unfortunately, yes. According to the CEO of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) “Under the FCRA, as long as the company that is buying the trigger leads meets certain legal requirements, it is legal in all 50 states.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been a proponent of selling trigger leads in that they felt it can provide the consumer with more options when they are looking to buy or refinance a home. For most consumers though, ending up on a trigger list can be something of a nightmare.

Trigger leads are normally sold in bulk lots and when a broker signs up to received trigger leads, they can request them with certain parameters. They can request certain age groups, specific credit scores, certain neighborhoods, current mortgage payments…the list goes on and on.

There are ways that a borrower can help prevent themselves from ending up on a trigger list:
1. Register at optoutprescreen.com. 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.
2. 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.
3. Sign up at DMAchoice.com. This will stop loan offers and other offers from coming to your physical mailbox. There is a $2 cost for this.

Another action that can helps if for the loan officer to not include a borrower’s phone number or email address on the application, 1003, or the credit pull. They can go back and add that later.

Are any of these options a 100% guarantee a borrower won’t end up on a trigger list? No. There are too many avenues available to get someone’s personal information. Everyone has put their phone number out into the cyber world for one reason or another. Whether it is for purchasing something online, paying a bill or the countless other reasons a person might have to give out their phone number. Because of technology there are several ways to obtain phone numbers and other personal information.

Even though there is just no way to completely guarantee that a potential borrower will not end up on a trigger list, there are at least some actions that can be taken to lessen the blow.



Author: Mindy Leisure Manager of Rescoring Services
Mindy has been with the company since it’s inception in 1994. She wears several hats as Director of Product Development and Rescore Express Manager. As a public speaker she has delivered dozens of seminars for borrowers, real estate agents and mortgage brokers on the ins and outs of the world of credit. Prior to joining Advantage Credit she had 15 years experience in mortgage, real estate and property management. Her experience, knowledge and dedication have helped make Advantage Credit a leading credit reporting agency. Mindy has a BA from Fort Lewis College in Durango CO and an MFA from Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. After living for 32 years in Colorado she has recently moved back to where she was born and raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in order to be closer to her family. In her free time she loves to cook, fish, garden, write and spend time with her family and her dogs Ben and Annie.