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Understanding and Preventing Credit Trigger Lead Marketing

02/12/24

We're hearing a lot of reports from our customers that they are being solicited by third-party companies who are using the customer's personal information as a sales tool. When any lender pulls your credit report, the credit bureau sells this information as a “Trigger Lead”. This sale of your information is legal, but you can stop it. That's why we have put together helpful information about why you may receive unsolicited marketing offers and steps you can take to prevent it from happening. 

What? How is my information sold?

  • Credit Bureaus are in the business of Big Data.
  • They profit when they charge you for a credit report.
  • They also profit when they sell your personal data as a lead.
  • The selling of your information results in an onslaught of lenders calling you and sending you text messages. Some of these lenders may not have your best interests in mind.  

What can I do to prevent these sales calls?

The first step is awareness. Understanding how your data is bought and sold without your direct knowledge is important! It’s even more important to know how is how to prevent your data from being sold. Here are some tips:

  • Opt out of the sale of your data. This prevents the credit bureaus from selling your information to anyone. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com which is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to Opt-In or Opt-Out of firm offers of credit or insurance.
  • Make sure that your phone numbers are listed on the “Do Not Call List”.  This prevents unwanted sales calls from any industry. To do this, visit www.donotcall.gov which is the official site of the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Getting a loan of any kind can also trigger unsolicited mail. To remove your data from the mailing lists, visit https://www.dmachoice.org/register.php 
  • If you do receive unsolicited calls, you can choose whether or not to ignore them.  No one requires you to call someone back or answer their text message.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are the credit bureaus allowed to release my credit information without my authorization?

Yes, the national credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian, & Innovis) are legally allowed to release your credit information, mailing address, phone numbers and other sensitive information to any of their members who request and pay for the information. 

 

Why would a credit bureau want to release my information?

The credit bureaus have a business model that is based on providing credit reporting services to lenders for a fee. However, a more profitable part of their business is selling your credit and inquiry information to companies looking to extend credit to individuals. The credit bureaus sell these lead lists, called “trigger-lists”, to companies based on each company’s desired consumer targets. These targets can be based on criteria such as inquiry activity, credit rating, credit card and loan balances, total debt, credit usage and the credit mix of the individual. The more defined the target, the more the credit bureaus charge to provide the information for that lead.

 

How does it affect me when the credit bureaus sell my information to these companies?

Companies purchase these “trigger-lists” from the credit bureaus to create their own marketing lists for their credit or loan services. Therefore, you will become the target of unsolicited credit and loan offers from these companies in various media from direct mail, email, and telephone contacts. One example of these unsolicited offers are the “pre-approved” credit card offers that almost everyone has received by mail. You will see a significant increase in this activity when you have applied for a loan or credit card, because doing so will require a credit inquiry and will categorize you as someone who is actively seeking credit.

 

Can I exclude myself from the unauthorized release of my information by the credit bureaus?

Yes. You can “opt-out” of having your information released by the credit bureaus. You can “opt-out” by phone or complete the process online.


optout prescreen

Opt-Out by phone:

  • Call 888.567.8688 
  • Once the message begins, choose Option #2 and then choose Option #3 to opt-out permanently.
  • Once you have completed the opt-out process by phone, you will be sent a confirmation letter in the mail that you will need to send back to execute your request.

Opt-Out online:

  • Log onto www.OptOutPrescreen.com
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the “Click Here to Opt-In or Opt-Out”
  • Then follow the instructions to opt-out for five years or permanently

 

If I complete the process to “opt-out”, will this request be processed immediately?

Your “opt-out” request will become effective with the credit bureaus within five days. However, you may not see an immediate reduction in the amount of unsolicited offers you receive - because those companies will have purchased your information from the credit bureaus prior to receiving your request to “opt-out”.


Will my request to “opt-out” prevent all unsolicited offers directed at me?

Opting-Out will not prevent solicitations from those merchants, associations, professional organizations, religious and charitable groups, politicians, and businesses with which you conduct business or are otherwise associated with already. You will need to contact each of these groups directly to prevent them from providing you with unwanted offers.

 

Can I “opt-out” the other members of my family or friends?

No. Each individual has his or her own credit information and history, so each individual must complete the opt-out process to prevent unwarranted solicitation.

 

I have already registered with the “Do Not Call” list, so does that protect me from having my credit information sold?

No. The “Do Not Call” list is separate from the practice of the credit bureaus selling your credit and sensitive information. If you have registered with the “Do Not Call” list, you have prevented the companies from soliciting to you via telephone communication. However, you have not prevented the credit bureaus from selling your information to a company that will send you unsolicited direct mail and email offers.

We offer additional information in our online Resource Center about protecting your personal information amongst many other topics. If you would like to discuss your specific credit situation with a bank representative, please contact us and we will be happy to help. 

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