Friday, May 18, 2007

Trigger Lists: Is Your Credit Report Private?

The Federal Trade Commission is allowing the Credit Reporting Bureaus: Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion, to re-sell your credit report information.

Here's What Happens:

You go to a bank or mortgage company to discuss your financial situation and they pull a credit report to qualify you for a loan. This triggers an alert in the system that you are in the market for credit. The bureau then compiles lists of consumer reports and re-sells them to other lenders on 'trigger lists'. They are re-selling not just your contact details but may be sharing your actual credit report.

Buyers of the lists target the top FICO score clients first. You may start getting unsolicited calls. Lots of calls. The callers may even imply they are calling from your bank or processor. We have heard of fantastic offers and ridiculous teaser rates for huge sums of money. It doesn't seem to matter if you have an unlisted number --the calls just keep coming.


To stop this cold, egister your phone number on the Do Not Call List. You can then report the offenders at the Do Not Call Registry www.donotcall.gov. The fines are pretty stiff so if you tell a caller you are on this list it's unlikely that person will call again.

The biggest concern is if your actual credit report is being released. Your credit report contains great deal of personal information including account numbers, balances and collections. This puts your mortgage lender you originally consulted in a very awkward position as they are now effectively competing for your business with strangers --people with whom you did not choose to share your personal financial information. Unfortunately some unsolicited callers use misleading tactics--claiming to be from 'your bank' or processing department. This may be a breach of your consumer privacy.

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers is very concerned that the reporting agencies are not properly vetting the credentials of all the lenders who are buying these lists. The Consumer Data Industry Association claims this practice is about providing consumer choice. The problem with this approach is that your financial information may be at risk.



Stop this practice: "Opt Out" on this website: www.optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-567-8688
Recently, a client called to discuss questions from my processor. It turned out the person who had called her was not my processor. I was mystified how they could have known that she was discussing a mortgage until I heard about trigger lists. These days people refinance and move so frequently, I guess the odds of someone expecting a call from 'their bank' must be in their favor. Your lender should provide the names of people who will be contacting you about your loan ahead of time so you can be sure with whom you are speaking.

I assure you that responsible lenders are protesting this practice. I urge consumers to express your concerns or personal experience to your Congressional Representatives at  http://www.congress.org/

Loannetter
© 2007 susan templeton loannetter