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Home arrow Real Estate News arrow General News arrow Sales of Private Financial Information set off by Home Mortgage Applications
Sales of Private Financial Information set off by Home Mortgage Applications Print E-mail
Monday, 11 September 2006
Pull the "triggers!" That’s the demand from the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, a 27,000-member trade group that is the largest in the home lending field. The “triggers” it wants to pull have nothing to do with weapons.

What the loan officer usually doesn’t know, however, is that the credit inquiry is immediately passed on to competing lenders around the country who’ll pay the credit bureaus for fresh “leads” about who’s interested in getting a new mortgage.

The concept works like this: When you inquire about or apply for a home mortgage, the loan officer typically does a quick check on your credit -- tapping into the online files of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three national credit bureaus.

The leads, known in the industry as “trigger lists,” are in competing lenders’ hands within 12 to 24 hours of your inquiry or application. Lenders can then phone you and offer mortgage quotes that sound better than the one you just got locally, but that may turn into bait-and-switch deals weeks later.

Typically your local loan officer hasn’t the slightest clue that his or her inquiry will trigger uninvited phone calls or mail solicitation just hours after your application.

Most of the trigger lists are provided by the credit bureaus to Internet-based “lead generator” companies that then resell the information to lender customers. One lender, for example, might tell a lead generator to send only fresh data on consumers with FICO scores above 720 who’ve applied for a new mortgage in Texas during the prior 12 to 24 hours. Another lender might only want to see hot leads on subprime applicants in California -- people with FICO scores under 620.

The credit bureaus say they’ve vetted their programs and that they comply with the law. Tim Summers, a vice president for Experian, said his firm’s “Prospect Triggers” program meets “all requirements of federal credit and privacy rules.

Edwina Baniqued

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