What are Trigger Leads, And How to Avoid Them

Protect Yourself from unsolicited lenders.

Gain Understanding
Nobody likes solicitors, whether they are door-to-door sales calls, that obnoxious person with a clipboard asking you to sign a petition at the local mall, or the dreaded cold call.  Have you ever received one of these cold calls for a product or service you have been shopping for and wondered to yourself, ‘How did they know I was shopping for that?!’.

What might seem like an invasion of your privacy – and an avalanche of unsolicited emails/calls/junk mail – is a perfectly legal process.  And the answer to the question of ‘how did they get my information’ is simply that credit bureaus sell your data.

Whenever you formally apply for credit or financing – like a mortgage loan or vehicle loan – your lender pulls a credit report.  This process is known as a “hard inquiry.”  Your credit inquiry then triggers a notification with all credit bureaus that you are looking for new credit.

Companies can purchase this credit inquiry data – also known as “trigger leads” – from the major credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.  These companies use this data for sales leads. 

Several industries regularly purchase trigger leads:
• Mortgage Lenders
• Credit Card Companies
• Auto Dealerships
• Auto Lenders
• Insurance Companies
• Personal Loan Lenders

Rest assured – these lenders don’t have access to protected information, such as your social security number.  However, they are acquiring your contact information and demographic information.  And these lenders are legally allowed to use your information to call, text, email, and mail you solicitations.

These third-party lenders don’t view their unsolicited communications as harassment but rather as an opportunity for you to “save” with them.  However, you may feel their solicitations are an intrusion into your privacy and a nuisance.   And, their offers are often too good to be true.  These lenders are doing their best to gain your trust and your business by offering you a seemingly more attractive offer than your trusted financial partners at the credit union.  

It’s important to understand what is going on in the description of rates and fees to protect yourself and determine if the offer presented is in your best interest.  Be informed of the lending process and learn to understand the rates and terms lenders offer you.  Your trusted financial partners at San Antonio Citizens Federal Credit Union provide clear, honest loan terms.  We explain the loan terms to you during the lending process so you can understand your loan.

Be Proactive, Protect Yourself
Unfortunately, trigger leads are currently legal under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If the lender or company purchasing trigger leads meets certain legal requirements, they can receive and use your information. The Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the FCRA, supports these leads because they believe this provides consumers with competitive pricing. 

You can reduce trigger leads with a few proactive measures:

  • National Do Not Call Registry: visit donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 to register your phone number with the Do Not Call Registry.
    • You’ll receive an email to confirm your registration request. You must click the link in that email to complete your registration.
    • Companies have up to 31 days after you register to comply with a do-not-call request. When possible, register prior to applying for a loan.
    • Charities, debt collectors, and political groups may still contact those registered for Do Not Call.
  • The official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry registry: visit optoutprescreen.com and follow the necessary steps to stop credit bureaus from selling your information.
    • This registration expires after five years.
  • Association of National Advertisers Registry: visit dmachoice.org  and register to reduce promotional mail offers from companies and organizations you don’t have a business relationship with
    • There is a $5 charge for this
    • You can also register your dependents and the deceased through this service.
    • Registration expires after ten years.

San Antonio Citizens Federal Credit Union is your community credit union where the members are the owners.  We are a community of people leveraging our collective resources to help one another thrive.