Big Brother Watching, Profiting From Your Actions – ‘Inquiry Lead’ Bait-Switch

‘Inquiry Leads’ or ‘Trigger Data’ Causing Problems for Consumers

Big brother is watching and profiting from your actions. The major credit bureaus have found a new profit center for all of the information they have on us in the vast data banks known as our credit reports. It has been well known for years that the pre-approved credit card offers we receive in the mail were stemming from information sold by the credit bureaus (known as pre-screened offers). ‘Opting out’ would get us off of these lists, reducing the amount of junk mail we receive and closing the opening to identity theft that the pre-approved offers posed if they were to fall into the wrong hands.

Now the latest deviation of the pre-screened offer is the ‘inquiry lead’. When you apply for credit, within 24 hours several other banks may be notified of your application. You will start receiving telephone calls and mailers offering you lending products based on what you applied for. This is most common regarding mortgages. The problem is that many of these offers result in bait-and-switch tactics. The telemarketer will make any promise they think a consumer wants to hear to try to lure the prospect away from the original lender.

Here are some of the tactics being used:

  • Saying they were notified by the original lender of the application and asked to call the consumer.
  • Making specific promises that aren’t met at closing.
  • Sending out paperwork to consumers in hopes they will “accidentally” fill out and return the information, thus starting a file with the other lender.
  • Hounding consumers about whether they are getting the best deal from their current lender.

    This information does not come cheap, purchasing 50 leads will cost over $3,000. The standard conversion rate is 2%, so on 50 leads a lender can expect to get one closed loan. One closed loan at a cost of $3,000….. guess who is paying the price in their closing costs? If a telemarketing firm wishes to close 20 loans they would need to buy 1,000 leads at a cost of over $60,000. Do you think there might be a motive to say anything to get a consumer to go with their company?

    In the bait-and-switch game participants misconstrue information to make their offer look better. One example is to give a rate they call a 30-year rate, but it may actually be a 2-year adjustable rate amortized for 30 years. If a consumer leaves their recommended lender based on a slightly lower rate they may find out at the signing table they are actually getting a short-term rate instead of the 30-year fixed rate they wanted.

    Not only are telemarketers competing with the original lender, but they are competing among themselves. There are several companies buying this information from the credit bureaus and reselling it to telemarketers. Sellers of the ‘inquiry data’ market it as “like having a crystal ball telling you when someone fits your desirable lending profile.” They do say conversion depends on the telemarketer’s skill on the phone and ability to demonstrate a better offer.

    The good news: you can remove your name from all of this. Under Federal law you have the right to remove your name from all pre-screened offers by calling (888) 567-8688 or going online to If you feel that you are being harassed or have been a victim of bait-and-switch contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint at

    Patrick Ritchie is the author of The Credit Road Map, a book designed to educate people on the world of credit and banking. The book is available at or He can be reached by email at [email protected]

    See Also: Close a Credit Card and Damage Your Credit Score

    Copyright © 2006 Success Road Map Press LLC

  • Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start hammering away on the keyboard.

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    Alan has been on the internet since it first started. He loves to use his expertise in content and digital marketing to help businesses grow, through managed content services. After living in the United States for 15 years, he is now in South Australia. To learn more about how Alan can help you with content marketing and managed content services, contact him by email.

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    Alan is also a techie. His father was a British soldier in the 4th Indian Division in WWII, with Sikhs and Gurkhas. He was a sergeant in signals and after that, he was a printer who typeset magazines and books on his linotype machine. Those skills were passed on to Alan and his brothers, who all worked for Telecom Australia, on more advanced signals (communications). After studying electronics, communications, and computing at college, and building and repairing all kinds of electronics, Alan switched to programming and team building and management.

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