Do Credit Bureaus Sell Your Information – Trigger Leads
Have you ever had your credit report pulled when applying for a loan, only to be bombarded with calls from creditors trying to sell you services or offering you loans? This isn’t a coincidence, and is one of the most annoying aspects of applying for credit for today’s consumers. If you’ve been inundated with calls after applying for a loan, you can be sure you’ve been turned into a ‘trigger lead’ and sold to various bidders by the credit bureaus tasked with protecting your personal data. The credit bureaus Equifax, Transunion, and Experian, often sell consumer data to any entity willing to pay. When you have a legitimate credit inquiry made when applying for credit, that inquiry “triggers” notice to other paying customers that you’re seeking a loan, prompting calls, sometimes by the dozen.
While consumers sometimes think the lender they applied with has done something wrong or their information has been leaked, the reality is it’s the credit bureaus selling this data. Consumers do have some recourse in opting out by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688), but the reality is some unscrupulous lenders may still call, disregarding the do not call list and betting on the fact that consumers won’t follow through with complaints. The only other recourse aside from opting out is in fact pursuing complaints and lawsuits against companies violating the do not call list. Further, there is no law currently in place that prevents credit bureaus from selling consumer data, and for that to change, consumers would need to pursue the matter and press their local representatives to pursue legislation banning these practices. Due to the legwork required by consumers to make any changes or pursue legal recourse, “trigger leads” continue to plague prospective borrowers seeking credit.
Is there anything lenders can do to stop ‘trigger lead’ calls?
Yes, and no. Lenders can remove some personal information when pulling a credit report, but some information is required to get the report. Through massive and ongoing data gathering campaigns, it’s likely that even if a lender (for example) removes your phone number, the credit bureaus can likely match your name & address to a phone number or email somewhere in a database, and pair up the information to sell.
So your lender may do their best to protect you, but thanks to big data and the fact that nearly every credit product requires a credit pull, short of legislation and consumer complaints and outcry, there’s little to stop the credit bureaus from selling your data.
Who are the lenders that are calling?
This is one of the biggest problems with trigger leads & the credit bureaus selling your data. You won’t know who the data was sold to, and neither do the credit bureaus, really. A lender with competitive rates, terms, and experienced sales people with your best interests in mind? Not likely. Due to the very nature of trigger leads, with them being cheap and setting up “cold calls” for lenders, the calls often come from entry level sales people (or worse, appointment setters for entry level sales people) in call center environments, working off of dialers that blast thousands of calls a day playing the numbers game and hoping they can steal a few deals along the way. Though it may be difficult, it’s best for consumers to avoid these callers altogether, as they’re notorious for “bait and switch” gimmicks offering loan terms that end up being too good to be true, or offering low rates while not mentioning the sky high fees associated with their offer. Best case, it can cause delays in a customer’s loan process, and worst case, can end in a true “bait and switch” where a customer doesn’t find out about the true costs of their deal until it’s too late.
What can consumers do?
We recommend opting out to drastically reduce the numer of inbound calls: 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). Aside from that, if you find it offensive that you’re required to have credit run to obtain a loan, with 0 protection from the credit bureaus regarding the sale of your data, it may be worthwhile to drop your local congressperson a note or file consumer complaints against the credit bureaus themselves.
Otherwise, it’s best to ignore the calls as best as you can – they should stop after a few days or, at worst, weeks, and they’re usually worst within a few days of having your credit run, so if you know you’ll be having your credit pulled or are applying for a loan, it may be best to just ignore unrecognized callers for a few days. If you’ve opted out and continue to receive spam calls, it is worth noting that violations of the do not call list come with pretty steep fines, so while it requires legwork from consumers, lawsuits are worth pursuing as well.
Do credit bureaus sell your information – yes they do, but hopefully we’ve provided some ways to help, or at least offer an understanding of what’s happening when your credit is pulled. It’s not your lender causing the influx of calls, and there’s little anyone other than you can do to mitigate or eliminate the calls altogether. The good news is that the huge influx of calls is usually short lived, and you can rest assured ignoring the calls results in unscrupulous lenders having wasted money purchasing your data. If you have any questions about trigger leads, credit bureaus selling your information, or anything else housing, mortgage, or finance related, we’d be happy to help – you can ask an expert here, or give us a call at 484.680.4852.