Here’s news you, your family and friends need to know.
Having credit checked is an important and necessary step in the home buying or refinancing process. As a matter of fact you can not get an accurate good faith estimate without having your credit pulled, but very few people realize that each time their credit is checked, the “inquiry data” that the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Innovis or Experian) have on file have now become a commodity. This information is being sold by the credit bureaus to other lenders…and also to companies that sell and resell the same names and personal information.
These “inquiry leads or trigger leads” include name, address, phone numbers (including unlisted), credit score, current debt and debt history, property information, age, gender and estimated income. They are marketing personal, confidential information to anyone who will pay their fee…and making millions. Your privacy is being sold, not just once, but over and over again. And lenders that purchase these leads at a premium will then do everything they can to recoup their investment and turn a hefty profit. Super sneaky bait and switch tactics are being used to lure clients away from their reputable lender. Clients have even been called by telemarketers representing disreputable lenders and told that the lender they had been speaking to previously “passed on” the information to them, because they knew that they’d be able to offer much better interest rates and terms….of course they can’t deliver better rates and terms and in the end they don’t!
Stop Them In Their Tracks!
The consumer credit reporting industry has provided two ways to “opt out” and remove your name from these lists. You can contact them by phone at 1-888-567-8688 or online at www.optoutprescreen.com. You must opt out at least 48 hours prior to having your credit checked to make sure it is processed in time. You can choose a five year or lifetime option, and the lifetime option does require a signed form. If a credit report needs to be run prior to the 48 hour waiting period – at least you are aware and informed, and can be on the lookout for suspicious phone calls or mailers from someone who has purchased your data.
The good news is by opting-out you can make it stop right away and protect yourself from “pre-approved credit offers” arriving via mail, which is one of the leading causes of identity theft in the US.
With any luck 2008 should see Federal legislation banning these types of misleading and aggressive marketing tactics and should eliminate some of the more dishonest players in the mortgage industry.
Take your privacy back. Take five minutes right now – opt out, and take control of your name and personal information.