by Barbara Nevins Taylor
The Facebook posts sound great. There are almost 70,000 followers of one company that promotes the idea of lowering your bills through refinancing, or other things like debt consolidation, debt relief, and credit card balance transfers. So what’s the catch? Essentially these companies generate leads for other companies that will attempt to sell you financial services.
They ask for personal information including your Social Security number. And that’s a big deal.
Take care about giving out personal information
It’s just not a good idea to give out your Social Security number during a casual online exploration. You have no idea where it will end up.
About one company
LowerMyBills.com (LMB) is the primary company using this business model. It was owned by Experian until October 2012. A California-based company called Core Digital Media bought it in October 2012.
Mitch Viner, Director of Operations for LowerMyBills.com, told ConsumerMojo that you don’t have to give your Social Security number to be referred to lenders. But he says those who do provide Social Security numbers are considered “Premier leads.”
Why ask for a Social Security Number?
Viner explains,”The purpose of collecting SSN is to validate consumer-supplied information, and help cut down on false submissions or identity theft. We also believe it shows a higher-intentioned consumer. Again, this is a secondary option, and not required for the use of the matching service”
You are a “Lead”
Remember, you are a lead. You are not their client. Their clients are lenders and others to whom they sell the information.
Viner says, “The contract with LMB requires that the institution be a licensed financial institution and/or bank. The institution must pass a Premier-verification check, which includes credit check, license verification with state agencies, and appropriate contract obligations (including warranty as to compliance with law, data security, no use or resale without consumer consent, no “auto-pull” of credit reports without consumer authorization, etc).
He also insistes, “We do not permit the resale of SSN or Premier leads, nor do we resell any Premier leads outside of this process.”
LowerMyBills also spells out its policies online and you might want to take a look:
Be very, very careful about entering those Social Security numbers online, or anywhere else.
What do you think? Let us know.
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