Quasi Mortgage / Refinance Application Scam?
April 20, 2015 10:12 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I awoke to a bunch of emails (and now calls) from mortgage companies responding to "our" request for information about a refinance. The calls and emails are frustrating in themselves, and, of course, it's off-putting to think someone has done something untoward with our information. Has anyone else experienced this? Details inside.

We recently refinanced our house. I spoke to our mortgage broker (whom we quite like) this morning, who sighed and reported that after they do a credit check for the refinance, a lot of companies will scrape the credit bureaus and follow up with unsolicited calls offering their competing services. For this reason, our broker strips phone numbers from their files when running a check, so others don't find that record.

Our situation is slightly different--it looks like someone has taken some information from my wife's credit report and submitted it to a couple of sites that act as clearinghouses for mortgage quotes. On one of the calls (coincidentally, from another arm of our very own broker), they reported that the inquiry was for a property in my wife's credit history (which she doesn't own). The email used to sign up for these quotes is an old school email address that was probably listed alongside one of her student loans.

It almost seems to me like this is engineered as a way to get around no-call lists and CAN-SPAM--in that the communication purports to have been initiated by us. We're taking these calls and telling the marketers to take us off their lists and telling them we didn't request a quote. I'd note that no one seems to be particularly surprised that we're saying we didn't request the quote, which leads me to suspect they hear that a lot.

It doesn't seem quite like phishing, since no one is asking for information, and it doesn't quite seem like someone is trying to get a loan in our names, since they've included all of our own contact information.

Of course we've pulled her credit report, and there's nothing new on it yet, and we'll continue to monitor. And I'll be calling our state consumer protection line and the FTC. We checked the old school email account and it seems not to be compromised, and we've changed the password.

Has anyone else experienced this?
posted by Admiral Haddock to Law & Government (5 answers total)
I have experienced something similar, and in my case it turned out to have a very benign cause. Like you, I assumed that someone had gotten my info improperly or illegally. In my case, it turned out that friend was idly running numbers on various refinance sites for his own refi, and not wanting to get a bunch of calls about this himself he helped himself to my phone numbers! So for a week or two I got a flurry of unsolicited calls urging me to use various refinance services. When I finally confronted him about it -- he had, in one case, added his name to my phone numbers, which is how I was able to make the connection -- he very sheepishly owned up to what he did.

It's funny now, and I gave him a large ration of shit for doing this, but it sort of goes to show that there are a lot of ways your contact info can get into the refinance "ecosystem", and when that system is finely tuned to actively pursue every lead and try to turn it into a sale, it's easy for stuff to go sideways quickly.

Good luck -- maybe your situation will have a similarly mundane root cause.
posted by mosk at 10:26 AM on April 20, 2015

It does sound like phishing [Mortgage News Daily]:
Have you ever received an e-mail offering you a unique and irresistible offer on a new mortgage for your house? If you didn't request the offer originally, you are probably a potential victim of mortgage email phishing. And, chances are you have received not only one of these e-mail scams, but dozens - each one with better terms than the last.
And you may want to check your computers for malware [TD Bank]:
Fraudulent e-mail may also include links and/or attachments that contain computer viruses and/or keystroke loggers and should not be clicked on or opened.
According to the SEC:
When fraudsters go on “phishing” expeditions, they lure their targets into a false sense of security by hijacking the familiar, trusted logos of established, legitimate companies. A typical phishing scam starts with a fraudster sending out millions of emails that appear to come from a high-profile financial services provider or a respected Internet auction house.
According to USA.gov:
thieves are now targeting customers of these smaller community banks and credit unions with phone-based phishing scams
posted by Little Dawn at 10:27 AM on April 20, 2015

There are affiliate marketing programs for home refinance where you can place an ad or link on your website, and get a payout (say, $10 to $20) for every "qualified lead" that clicks on the ad and fills out an inquiry, so I'm guessing someone is submitting fake inquiries with your info order to get the affiliate payout.
posted by zombiedance at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't worry about it. If you tried to refi, your application is shared among various other companies.

I had recently tried to apply for a secured loan backed by business assets (it fell through, the rates are usurious) and for MONTHS I'm getting random calls and letters wanted to offer me loans.

Just tell each one that you answer: I want your full company name, (first) then after they give it, I want to be put on the DO NOT CALL LIST. If I ever get a call from you guys again, I'm complaining to FCC and anybody else who will listen. :)
posted by kschang at 7:32 AM on April 22, 2015

This just happened to me today! I've received one email and 6 phone calls responding to my "refinancing application" in the past 8 hours. The lady at Quicken Loans explained that she'd received my name, email, phone # and an OLD address (6+ years ago) in the application.

The "affiliate marketing program" described above seems like the most likely explanation for this. I'm wondering how long the calls lasted for the OP -- will I still be getting these calls months from now??
posted by skammer at 3:46 PM on July 14, 2015

« Older Best travel tips around the Annapolis area during...   |   Best way to buy a car & how to borrow money... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.