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.

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“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.

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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.”

Wow.

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. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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