Trigger Leads and Mortgage Telemarketing Make Headlines

By Sharon Secor, Staff Writer

What the industry refers to as ‘trigger leads’ and mortgage telemarketing have made the headlines, and with good reason, too. The high-pressure sales techniques typical of the mortgage telemarketing call can be more than just annoying to consumers, as predatory lenders also have the opportunity to purchase information about borrowers, or trigger leads, which could lead to a borrower being victimized.

An Associated Press story by Brian Bergstein, published on Sunday, July 1, 2007, discussed the great increase in mortgage telemarketing. What happens, according to the report, is that credit bureaus – and that does include the major three, Experian, Trans Union and Equifax — sell a potential borrowers’ information once they contact a mortgage lender and their credit report is requested. Often, the information is bought by marketing companies specializing in the business of selling this type of information, such as, and resold to countless others. The site advertises themselves as having information from “consumers have just had their credit checked within the past 24 hours, specifically for mortgage loan.”

Just what sort of information are these companies buying about consumers? Well, the information is personal enough to have raised privacy concerns not only with consumers, but also with lawmakers, as well. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Federal Trade Commission says that this information selling is legal. However, some states are taking action to restrict, even outlaw, this practice when it comes to mortgage and refinancing matters. Minnesota and Massachusetts are leading the way on this and, on the federal level, there may also soon be some action. According to the AP report mentioned above, “the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is investigating the issue in advance of hearings it expects to hold on a broad review of the credit-reporting agencies, according to committee spokesman Steven Adamske.”

This information selling and mortgage telemarketing has been a source of annoyance that, for many, has reached harassment level, with phone call after phone call for months at a time. According to a story by Eileen Ambrose, published recently in the Baltimore Sun, “a Maryland client got 67 calls in four hours.” However, there is great potential for these calls to be more than irritating in the extreme. Consumer and privacy advocates are also concerned about predatory and fraudulent lenders taking the opportunity to use these trigger leads as a means of luring even more people to be victimized and scammed.

When dealing with these types of phone calls and e-mails, the standard safety rules apply. Be very wary of a lender that is aggressively pursuing you. And, by all means, do not send money in advance of a loan. Run, do not walk, away from a lender suggesting that you use means outside of a bank to transfer money, such sending money by wire, via Western Union, Moneygram or some other similar company or service. You can avoid these phone types of phone calls by choosing to opt out of prescreened credit offers and dialing 1-888-567-8688. You can also do this online, via

Right now, trigger leads and mortgage telemarketing are legal, though annoying. Until that changes, if it does, you can protect yourself from the worst dangers they have to offer – fraudulent lending and loan scams – by using standard safety practices, no matter how good the sales pitch or how great the offer may sound.

Related Pages: First Time Mortgages | Refinancing an ARM | Buying vs. Renting