Did you know that whenever a lender obtains a copy of your credit report, that your name, telephone number and other information might be sold to other lenders by the credit bureau as part of a "trigger lead" program?
To ensure your information is not sold, you can submit an online form at www.optoutprescreen.com.
There is more information about opting out of trigger leads at the bottom of this page. But first, here’s more information to help you understand how trigger leads work.
What is a trigger lead?
When you authorize a lender to "pull" (i.e., obtain) your credit report as part of a specific inquiry about a loan, the information in your report automatically becomes part of the credit bureau’s trigger lead program.
This pool of information is searched against criteria or "attributes" selected by lenders and mortgage brokers who want to buy trigger leads. Searchable attributes include your age, gender, state of residence, annual income, monthly mortgage payment, credit score and so on. If your information matched the selected attributes, your name, telephone number and home address would be sold as a trigger lead.
For example, suppose a mortgage broker wanted to target prospective home-loan borrowers who lived in California, owed at least $300,000 on a current mortgage and had credit scores of at least 550. If you inquired about a home loan and your data matched those selected criteria, your name and contact information could be sold to that broker. The broker then could use that information to contact you and attempt to obtain your business.
Trigger leads may be sold 24 hours after your credit report was pulled. A so-called "soft pull," e.g., a credit report inquiry that you didn’t initiate with a specific lender, typically wouldn’t become a trigger lead.
Pros and cons of trigger leads
Some people like the idea of being contacted by multiple lenders who are eager for their business so they can comparison shop among a wide range of options. The credit bureaus don’t limit the number of times a trigger lead can be sold, so one credit inquiry potentially could result in dozens of contacts.
If you’re comfortable with this open-door approach, you still should exercise caution and be sure to deal with reputable professionals. The ability to purchase trigger leads doesn’t necessarily mean an individual or company is reputable or trustworthy.
Other people don’t like the idea of having their personal data sold in this way. These individuals may be concerned about privacy or identity theft or may not wish to receive unsolicited telephone calls or mailings. (Trigger leads normally are scrubbed against the national do-not-call list.)
How to opt out of trigger leads
There are two ways to opt-out of trigger lead programs and ensure your information is not sold.
1. Complete and submit an online form at www.optoutprescreen.com. This method stops trigger leads for five years.
2. Complete a separate form at the same Web site (www.optoutprescreen.com) and then print, sign and mail a letter generated by that form to confirm your opt-out request. This method stops trigger leads permanently.
Both of the opt-out methods take five days to become effective, so if you don’t want your information to be sold, you need to opt-out at least five days before you make a specific inquiry.
If your information is already in the trigger lead pool, you may continue to receive telephone calls and mailings for some time after you elect to opt out.