Suspicious Sites

Suspicious Sites: MortgageDeals.com

May 14, 2008
by Colleen Brondou
Suspicious Sites shines its high beams on sites we think you should be wary of. This week: A Web site that promises to find you mortgage lenders but merely gathers your contact information and sells it to mortgage lenders.

The Skinny

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MortgageDeals.com boasts: “Using MortgageDeals.com is the best way to find local lenders willing to offer you the lowest rates available,” and “the lenders at MortgageDeals.com can make getting the loan easier.” The homepage eagerly directs the visitor to an online loan application, providing at least eight separate opportunities to click through to it.

The Suspicion

This site doesn’t actually make obtaining a mortgage “easier” or ensure that you get the “lowest rates available.” Filling out the online loan application at MortgageDeals.com is little different from dialing an 800-number you find in the Yellow Pages.

How do we know this?

At the bottom of every page, you’ll find a text link titled “For Lenders … Mortgage Leads.” Clicking this link takes you to a site called Etrafficers that advertises “Fresh Mortgage Leads in All 50 States” and proudly lists MortgageDeals.com as one of its “Leads Sites.” So, while MortgageDeals.com is promising you the “lowest rates” and an “easy” loan, it is also promising lenders “fresh mortgage leads.” MortgageDeals.com exists solely to collect contact information from potential borrowers to sell to mortgage lenders on Etrafficers.com.

MortgageDeals.com’s “About Us” page offers no identifying information about the company. (FindingDulcinea’s Guide to Web Search in its section on “Web Site Credibility” affirms the importance of determining who publishes a site and whether they may be biased.) The “Contact Us” page requires that you fill out a form with your e-mail address and phone number and offers no contact information for the company (although they do have a “Privacy” page that lists a Utah mailing address).



The oddest statement on the entire site is at the bottom of the loan application. It claims to identify your IP address and tells you to “Please enter valid information. Do not submit false or incorrect information. Your IP address will be used to validate the information submitted.” This is strange, because an IP (Internet Protocol) address cannot be used to validate any information about you. Furthermore, this statement implies that MortgageDeals.com doesn’t trust you to volunteer correct information; does this lead you to trust them?

The Solution

MortgageDeals.com needs to be up-front about where your personal information is going and how it’s being used. It also needs to be more transparent about its relationship with Etrafficers and make it clear to site users that the mortgage lenders provided are those that have paid to receive your contact information. And it should stop claiming to get you the “lowest rates” or “easy” loans; those claims are just plain wrong.
 
For reliable information on fair lending practices and mortgages, visit the Federal Reserve Board. To find a certified mortgage broker in your area, try the National Association of Mortgage Brokers. And for even more credible sites with mortgage information you can trust, read the findingDulcinea Mortgages Web Guide.
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