Hey Quicken Loans, I asked you not to run my credit. What gives?

When Stacey Sproul went shopping for a home mortgage, a friend tipped her off to the “great rates” offered by Quicken Loans. But Quicken gave her so much more than she asked for, and its actions threatened to lower her credit score.

Sproul, one of our forum advocates, posted part one of her loan misadventure in our forums. The dramatic conclusion is in a password-protected part of the site reserved for staff members only, but today I’m going to share it with you. That’s because there’s a lesson in Sproul’s experience for all of us about the perceived and real dangers of credit checks.

First, let’s have a look at what a credit inquiry could do to you. Credit reporting agencies ding you for too many requests, and their reasons don’t really make sense, from a consumer point of view.

Large numbers of inquiries, the credit reporting agencies claim, can mean greater risk. Statistically, people with six inquiries or more on their credit reports can be up to eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people with no inquiries on their reports, they say.

To make matters even more confusing, there are two kinds of inquiries — “hard” and “soft.” No need to go into details, but this blog post from Experian explains the difference. All you need to know for now is that a “hard” check can hurt your credit score.

Sproul didn’t want to become another statistic. I can’t blame her.

When she phoned Quicken, a representative pressured her into allowing the company to run a credit check.

Related story:   Cross the state line, pay extra for your rental car

“I kept saying ‘no, no, no,'” she remembers. “I told them, ‘You don’t need to do a credit check to have a lender send you estimated closing costs.'”

Since Sproul kept saying “no,” the Quicken representative responded that he could not provide a closing cost estimate without running a credit check, but his manager would call her back to discuss the situation.

“The manager called me back and proceeded to continue to badger and pressure me to allow her to perform a credit check on me,” she says.

Again, Sproul insisted that Quicken Loans just send her the estimated closing costs.

“I explained to the Quicken Loans representative that Quicken’s annual percentage rates were much better than anyone else had, and I wanted to see the closing costs, in order to determine if these great rates were because Quicken expected the buyer to buy down the rate,” she says.

Finally, the quicken loan representative said, “OK, then let me do a soft credit check. A soft credit check won’t show on your credit report.”

And you can probably guess what happened next, right? Quicken ran a hard check, despite a promise not to.

“I felt deceived,” she says. “I was pretty livid.”

Sproul complained to Quicken and asked the company to review its phone records. A representative reviewed the call records and said Quicken agreed with her interpretation — that she had basically been duped into agreeing to a hard check.

And that’s where the thread ends.

So what happened to her credit? And what became of the representative who disregarded her instructions? The answer is on our staff forum.

Related story:   Can social media improve customer service? Vail Resorts discovers the answer one run at a time

Sproul figures the check cost her a few points, which “really isn’t going to affect me or my borrowing power because I have extraordinary credit,” she shared with her fellow staffers.

But the representative didn’t get off so easy.

“It appears that the woman who performed the credit check was demoted from ‘director of mortgage banking’ to ‘staff lead’,” she says. “Her signature block appeared to change over the course of the week while I was emailing everyone at Quicken. I didn’t ask how they reprimanded her because I didn’t want to be intrusive, appear petty, or take the focus off getting what I wanted.”


Our advocates almost never get to see what happens on the other side of the equation. It’s definitely nice to know Quicken cares about customer service and is willing to make staffing changes based on good — or bad — service.

If a company ever does this to you, we always publish helpful contacts for the credit reporting agencies. But you might also want to drop by our help forum. We might be able to speed the process along.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • deemery

    “staff lead” One wonders what leadership she’ll exercise in that call center.

    But more importantly, this is Yet Another Example of sales quotas that cause individuals to misbehave. Wells Fargo is the poster child for this (several times over.) What should be the responsibility of the -corporation- for such pressures? Some are arguing for Wells Fargo Board of Director members to go, is that really going to punish the company? A bunch of rich people who won’t get those great paychecks for attending board meetings, not feeling sorry for them at all!

    I’m not an Elizabeth Warren fan, but I think she often has it right when she addresses consumer interests. But there has to be more than more bureaucracy and slaps on the wrists for big companies to actually change.

  • Dutchess

    Looks like a key piece of information from the forum post was omitted here that might explain Quickens rapid response and the employee’s demotion:

    Further googling and I realized that one avenue for recourse was to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. So I filed a complaint. As a resolution I asked for the inquiry to be removed and my credit score to be put back to what it was before the inquiry.

    The next day Quicken Loans called her back. Seems contacting the FTC got them to act very fast.

  • PsyGuy

    Why would anyone continue to do business with a company that continued that kind of pressure? If a CSR kept doing that to me, i wouldn’t give them permission to do anything.

  • PsyGuy

    Those titles are essentially meaningless. If you are a CSR on an incoming sales floor, whatever you’re called, you’re still doing grunt work.

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    This is the reason I never do business over the phone, with NOBODY……..I don;t care if t he person is my son or brother.

  • AAGK

    So did she get the inquiry removed or not? It’s unclear. Also, I don’t give any weight to what another quicken employee told her re: the demotion of the rep so I wouldn’t get so excited about that. I assumed she got the inquiry removed as she stated on the forum, but then it wouldn’t have cost her any credit score points. Unclear.

  • AAGK

    I like this concept. I should use it more.

  • AAGK

    Was the inquiry removed? The article doesn’t say. Quicken could remove it if it wants to, otherwise it’s not going anywhere for 2 years. The FTC and CFPB also cannot force a removal, just ask the company.

    The upside is when looking for a mortgage, one may have a bunch of credit checks in a short time and lenders tend to take that into consideration.

  • sirwired

    Useful Note: No organization involved with opening credit accounts even HAS the capability of running a “soft” check on your request. ALL they can do is “hard” requests.

    “Soft” checks are for employment, rental reference, current creditors keeping tabs on you, you keeping tabs on your own credit, etc.

    The whole purpose of the distinction to begin with is to separate out requests for new credit from the uses of a credit report that have nothing to do with that. If somebody wanting to loan you money says they have a magic wand they can waive to turn it into a “soft” request, they are lying.

  • Alan Gore

    The underlying problem here is the whole idea that checking your credit lowers your score. There is no reason whatever for this convention to exist, so the credit agencies need to be prevented from doing it. Credit scores have become a basic financial metric for individuals, so an oligopoly of three credit agencies should no more be allowed to make up all the rules that govern it, any more than travel rules should be dictated by the airlines.

  • sirwired

    I agree with PsyGuy that titles in the Finance industry really don’t mean much. I once did some work for a mid-sized insurance company, and my primary contact was a first-line manager in charge of about six computer storage administrators. His office was just a normal-sized one-person office.

    In the Normal World, his title would have been “IT Manager, Storage”, or even just “IT Storage Team Lead.” In finance-land? “Associate Vice President, Storage Technology Strategy”, bringing to mind somebody with a large corner office, a secretary, and half a floor of minions at his beck and call.

  • sirwired

    The reasons for this are simple: There is a lag between being granted credit and the new account appearing on your report. A bank does not want to get into the situation where they grant you a loan for, say, a new house, only to find out that one week before closing you got a loan for a new car, the monthly payments for which mean your new house isn’t really affordable any more.

    In addition, their statistics showed that people that apply for several different kinds of loan at once are more likely to have trouble paying the loans they are granted back. (e.g. Maybe you applied for a couple new credit cards because your checking account doesn’t have enough in it.)

    They did, however, adjust the algorithms a few years back so a bunch of installment loan requests from the same kind of creditor (e.g. different auto lenders) only count as a single “pull” when computing your credit score.

    It should also be noted that the hit to your score from a report pull doesn’t last very long.

  • Carrie Livingston

    It says in the article that the rep’s email signature block changed.

  • Alan Gore

    So why not just have fields for ‘last pull’ and ‘number of pulls in current year’? This would actually improve the accuracy of the data.

  • Rebecca

    Yes, you’re 100% correct. Sales quotas are the main reason I stopped working the customer service side of things. I originally took a pay cut to move over to processing.

    For me, the final straw was when the bank I worked for started automatically signing up customers for “fraud monitoring” when their identities were stolen. To the tune of over $100/year automatically billed. I was expected to train reps to push this service (which I think is a scam to begin with). They also made it so I had to override if a customer declined, and they started tying my bonuses to these sales. I made great bonuses when they were based on “performance metrics” (like making sure no one is waiting on hold, for example). It was like 40% of my income. I just can’t do sales.

  • Bobby Dale

    “a friend tipped her off to the “great rates” offered by Quicken Loans”
    Friends do not let friends use Quicken Loans, they are akin to Countrywide or Wells Fargo.

  • greg watson

    credit score………….never had one…………never needed one. Pay all of your bills on time, & it doesn’t get much better than that

  • sirwired

    Because knowing who is doing the pulling makes a big difference. If you are applying for a mortgage, a pull from another mortgage lender last week is no big deal. But a pull from a credit card? That’s a huge deal.

    And how would eliminating some of the data improve accuracy?

  • Alan Gore

    I’m adding data, not eliminating it. If an institution contemplating extending credit to J. Blow sees a recent new pull or an unusual number of pulls as expressed in new separate fields, they might insist in waiting X weeks before granting new credit, or querying the borrower. But if the only indicator of activity is a sudden drop in credit score, the lender has no idea what the reason might be. Adding fields increases the precision of the database for its intended usage.

  • LDVinVA

    Not in this day and age. Yes, pay your bills on time. But those bills come from companies – electric, water, cable – who more than likely checked your credit before setting up your service!

  • joycexyz

    That explains a lot.

  • joycexyz

    And she was right to be suspicious. Outrageous closing costs would quickly negate those “great rates.” No wonder the rep was not forthcoming!

  • Carol Molloy

    Respectfully, that is not correct. It is up the the user of credit bureau reports to determine their policy regarding soft versus hard pulls. The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides the regulatory guidelines for obtaining and using credit reports, as well as providing requirements incumuupon the credit reporting agencies.

    We do use soft pulls, which do not change a client’s credit score, to assist with analyses that are not tied to a submitted application for credit. There must be a legitimate business purpose, and it must have been authorized by the client, either verbally ( which is permitted in FCRA) or in writing.

    A mortgage pre-approval is one such example.

  • AAGK

    What does that have to do with whether the inquiry was removed? That’s the piece of info I want to know. Did quicken fix its error and remove the hard hit? It’s personnel decisions would give me little satisfaction if the inquiry remained. Does the current credit report show a quicken inquiry?

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.