In my nearly 20 years in the mortgage business in Palm Beach County, I have never seen so much mortgage advertising specifically designed to mislead the consumer.
Lenders and lead generation companies have ramped up their trolling by e-mail, snail mail and phone. Dragging baits that all sound too good to be true, these marketers lure in many unsuspecting homeowners. Even worse, if you've taken the rancid bait just once you may find countless solicitors trying to reel you in.
Here are some of the popular common trolling techniques and how to identify them so you do not find yourself caught.
Mail that is made to look like it's from your mortgage lender but isn't. For example if the return address says "re: Elite Lending" it is not from Elite Lending, but is designed to make you think so. They get the name of your mortgage company from public records.
"You have been selected for an exclusive interest rate reduction program."
Translation: You are next on our list of people to harass into refinancing.
Any correspondence that refers to renegotiating or restructuring is a disguise for a refinance solicitation.
One percent mortgages or "cut your house payments in half," which is a misrepresentation of an option arm.
You cannot borrow money at a rate of 1 percent.
Any advertisement that currently discloses an annual percentage rate less than 5.5 percent is a blatant falsehood.
Here's my personal favorite: "This property qualifies for the economic advantage effective interest rate reduction program."
Of course, I respond to these advertisements and solicitations just to hear the sales pitch. In most cases, the person who answers the phone knows nothing about mortgages and is working off a script to pry personal information from me and turn it into a mortgage application. These companies have one goal: to get you to apply.
If you provide a Social Security number, you will learn what shooting fish in a barrel is like when you're the fish!
There are companies that pay to be immediately notified as soon as anyone does a mortgage credit report and you will be bombarded by phone calls and tricky junk mail. Once the blood is in the water the "loan sharks" come out.
It's called purchasing "trigger leads" and it's perfectly legal. You must opt-out if you do not want the credit repositories to be able to sell your credit report info. At www.EliteLending.biz click on "privacy protection" and follow the very simple opt-out instructions provided free.
There are many reasons to refinance in today's interest rate environment, but don't be fooled into a program that may not be best for you and your family. Avoid "mortgage trollers" and explore your options with a respected professional.
Daniel J. Poulos is the president of Elite Lending, at 1232 W. Indiantown Road, Jupiter in the Shoppes of Jupiter Creek. For additional information and assistance with any home or commercial financing, call (561) 745-5575 or in Port St. Lucie, (772) 335-5556 at 1814 SE Port St. Lucie Blvd., Port St. Lucie.