January 29th, 2008 10:07 AM by Lehel Szucs
Your information … a hot commodity.
Having credit checked is an important and necessary step in the home buying process. But very few people realize that each time their credit is checked, the “inquiry data” that the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Innovis or Experian) have on file have now become a commodity. This information is being sold by the credit bureaus to other lenders…and also to companies that sell and resell the same names and personal information.
That’s right – the credit bureaus have found a way to increase their revenues at your expense….and without your permission.
These “inquiry leads” include name, address, phone numbers (including unlisted), credit score, current debt and debt history, property information, age, gender and estimated income. They are marketing personal, confidential information to competing creditors…and making millions. Your privacy is being sold, not just once, but over and over again.
And lenders that purchase these leads at a premium will then do everything they can to recoup their investment and turn a hefty profit. Super sneaky bait and switch tactics are being used to lure clients away from their reputable lender. Clients have even been called by disreputable lenders and told that the lender they had been speaking to previously “passed on” the information to them, because they knew that they’d be able to offer much better interest rates and terms. Ouch!
Just Say “No”
The consumer credit reporting industry has provided a way to “opt out” and remove your name from these lists. You can contact them by phone at 1-888-567-8688 or online at www.optoutprescreen.com You must opt out at least 48 hours prior to having your credit checked to make sure it is processed in time. You can choose a five year or lifetime option, and the lifetime option does require a signed form. If a credit report needs to be run prior to the 48 hour waiting period – at least you are aware and informed, and can be on the lookout for suspicious phone calls or mailers from someone who has purchased your data.
The good news is by opting-out you can make it stop right away and protect yourself from “pre-approved credit offers” arriving via mail, which is one of the leading causes of identity theft in the US.