Whether you like it or not, your credit information is for sale. I first blogged about this little known scandal over a decade ago, and it is worth revisiting as this issue has become more rampant than ever. In my opinion, it should be illegal (it’s not!), but there is something you can do to fight back and protect your credit information from being sold to aggressive cold-callers!
First a little back-story: under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, banks and other creditors can pay the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) to be notified when a competitor pulls your credit report. For example, you come to me seeking guidance and estimates for home finance options. To provide you with accurate information, I ask the credit bureaus to compile a credit report for your transaction (a service I have to pay the bureaus for). The credit bureaus then notify other mortgage firms that you are shopping for a home loan. These other “professionals” also obtain your contact information, and proceed to call you tirelessly offering their services.
Let me repeat for emphasis: when you choose to do business with me you should expect dozens of cold-calls from other lenders the moment I pull your credit! You never granted these companies permission to call you, yet its legal for them to know when and why your credit is pulled.
I equate it to this: imagine you go into your favorite furniture store to buy a new sofa. After a store associate walks you around the store and points out a few options, you decide on your sofa. Upon making your selection, hidden cameras within the store notify competing furniture stores that you are about to buy something. Droves of salespeople from OTHER furniture stores immediately come rushing into your favorite store, aggressively offering sofas, beds, dining room tables and other furniture alternatives while you’re in line to pay for the sofa you’ve already selected.
Crazy, right??!! Supporters of this practice defend it as capitalism at its finest. After all, if you’re shopping for a product isn’t it good to have options? Yes, you should shop around, but you should do it on YOUR TERMS. It is inappropriate for the credit reporting agencies to have the ability to sell your information to companies that you have no desire to hear from, particularly given their track record of keeping customer information secure (remember in 2017, Equifax had data of 143,000,000 consumers stolen by hackers)!
But there is something you can do to stop this harassing practice! You can Opt-Out of these solicitations by visiting https://www.OptOutPreScreen.com/. You can submit an electronic request that will stop these solicitations for 5 years, or submit a request by mail to permanently opt-out. There is no cost to do so, and it takes 1-minute to complete the electronic option. It may take 5 days for the request to take effect, so I recommend ALL clients complete this simple process ASAP.
If you’d like to take it a step further, you can register with the Direct Mail Association (small $2 processing fee required) to reduce all forms of solicitations, including email, catalogs and other “junk mail” offerings. Lastly, you can register with the National Do Not Call Registry to remove your mobile and landlines from Telemarketing lists.
Your credit information is valuable, and should not be shared with just any company willing to pay for it. We hope you take the precautionary steps to protect it, and in doing so save some sanity by stopping unwanted solicitations.