Monday, August 4, 2008

Don't Fall for the Funny Free Credit Report Commercials

The New York Times had an article today about those catchy commercials and how the service they offer isn't actually free. Huh? How could that be, you ask? Well, one might ask how they can afford so much advertising time if they were giving away their product for free?

According to the Times, gets users to sign up for a credit monitoring service which comes with a montly fee of $14.95, which many of those interviewed for the article said wasn't clear to them when they signed up.

I sympathize with those people of course. Once I accidentally found myself in a Vacation Rewards club that cost me $12 a month for months before I wised up to the charge and had it cancelled. I gave $5 a month to Greenpeace for years because I felt too bad to call them up and cancel the donation that was only supposed to last for one year. It is too easy these days to get scammed. That's why I'm hooked on online banking now, so you can see the description of every charge that goes through your account.

Anyhow, if you're looking for a free credit report, here's what you should know:

  1. You are entitled to one credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

  2. The official place to get them is at

  3. You can also obtain your credit report any time you have been denied for a loan, a job or an insurance policy based on your credit history.

In this economy people are more and more concerned with keeping up their credit and it seems like, of course, companies are looking for ways to profit from this. But if you know your rights you can avoid paying a monthly fee.


Jim ~ said...

I think their commercials and the jingles are entertaining. Back before I bought my house we signed up for the 'free' credit report and ended up paying for it. After that mistake I only use where you can pull your credit report (not credit score) for free each year. I think it's important to check a credit report every year just to make sure everything is in order and there are no surprises.

I had some old student loans not reported as 'closed' after consolidation. These loans being shown as open makes me look like I'm borrowing 2x as much as I did after doing a consolidated student loan. Inquiry information is also interesting to see to know who's been running or looking at your credit lately. I should do a post about some of the useful stuff regarding credit reports.

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