Warning: FreeCreditReport.com Is Not Free

Posted Aug 12, 2008

Despite the words in the domain name, Freecreditreport.com is not actually a free service.  Freecreditreport.com is also not connected to the annual free credit report that everyone is entitled to through federal law.  Even though Freecreditreport is not free, many credit agencies are recommending individuals to them.

Here is what a commenter at Consumerist had to say about FreeCreditReport.com:

A few weeks ago I decided that it was time to do my annual check of my credit report. All of the major credit reporting agencies seem to strong arm you towards www.freecreditreport.com.

I went through the sign-up and authentication procedure. As a part of the procedure you have to enter a valid credit card that appears on your report. It?s followed by the usual legalize eye-watering disclaimers.

Last week I checked my current MasterCard bill online. I was greeted by the following entry:

07/28/08 CIC*Triple Advantage 877-4816825 CA $14.95
Not immediately recognizing the company, I called the company and found out that it was an alias for FreeCreditReport.com. After navigating the menu tree I was eventually connected to a woman who seemed to be annoyed that she had to deal with a customer. I asked her about the charge and she started asking far more personal information than was contained in my credit report. When I refused to provide more than the basic information, she relented and insisted that I had signed up for the monthly monitor. She further stated that since I hadn?t cancelled it within the first month (I didn?t know about it until the bill came) I was obligated for a one year membership.

Not one to take this type of thing sitting down, I advised the woman in direct (not offensive) terms that
· I did not knowingly sign up for the service.
· I did not authorize this service
· I do not want this service
· I will not pay for this service
· I will be filing a formal complaint with the AG?s office in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts about their deceptive marketing practices

The woman put me on hold for about five minutes and finally came back and said that the account had been cancelled and that a refund would be forthcoming. As of this morning, approximately a week later, the credit has yet to show up on my credit card statement.

The moral to this story is that freecreditreport.com is a scam set up by the credit reporting agencies. It is not there to fulfill their legal obligation to provide you with your credit reports. It is, instead, a sleazy way of selling their ?value-added? services. I think that most people would be afraid to stand up to a reporting agency.

The only authorized source for free credit reports is http://www.annualcreditreport.com.  The FTC charged Experian Consumers Direct with deception in 2005.  Experian and the FTC made a settlement on the basis that Freecreditreport informs users that they will be charged unless cancelling within the trial period.