Another Consumer Scammed By FreeCreditReport.com

Freecreditreport.com is NOT actually free, nor is it related to Annualcreditreport.com, the free credit report that you are entitled to under federal law. So why are people still being tricked into signing up for a credit monitoring service in order to get something that they are entitled to under federal-freaking-law? Because the credit bureaus are linking them to the website and most consumers don’t believe that a major credit bureau would try to trick them. Always read the fine print!

Reader Brian is one such consumer. He clicked through to Freecreditreport.com from a credit bureau website and was later socked with a charge for a credit monitoring service he knew nothing about. Here’s his letter:

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 http://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.

If you’re a regular reader of Consumerist, you may have known about this issue for a long time, (or are the type of person who always reads the fine print, which is very admirable) but most consumers are simply not aware that Freecreditreport.com isn’t the “free credit report” that they’re entitled to by law. What’s more, they implicitly trust the heavily advertised guitar playing loser from the commercials, or the recommendation of a major credit bureau.

Warn your friends. Freecreditreport.com isn’t free.

Free Annual Credit Reports [FTC]

Comments

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  1. ucdcsteve says:

    What’s more, their commercials are deceptive and provide false and misleading information. It’s a fact that unless you and your spouse enter into a mutual contract with a loan and both default on the loan, then and only then will your credit score be reduced. Simply marrying someone with poor credit does nothing to affect your score, contrary to one of their commercials. At least some of the songs are catchy.

  2. Tightlines says:

    How are they allowed to call it “free” if it’s not?

  3. TVarmy says:

    When the media first started talking about this semi-scammy service, I thought the AG would tell them to make the disclaimer more obvious or stop marketing themselves as free. Instead, they made more and bigger budget ads. Before, I would have been happier if they read the disclaimer in a fast, quiet voice, like in prescription ads or the bit after booze ads on the radio. However, it’s gotten so bad we need them to incorporate the disclaimer into the songs, possibly contrast the pirate singing about how he wishes he wasn’t frauded with the old folks sitting at the table talking about how they’re now having $30 a month skimmed from their credit card…

  4. Pylon83 says:

    Absolutely no sympathy here. It clearly says on the website that it’s not actually free, and that it signs you up for a monthly service. This is why it’s imperative to read the fine print.

  5. Nogard13 says:

    They say at the end of each commercial that “the offer applies to enrollment in Tripple-Advantage.” Are people just not listening? Don’t blame FCR.com for the mistakes people make.

    I signed up at FCR.com for a credit report just 8 months after obtaining my free annual one (which, by the way, I had to mail in to get since all three credit reporting companies said I couldn’t do it online). Since I couldn’t wait another 4 months, I enrolled online. There was a HUGE check box and a pop-up that warned me that I was being enrolled in Tripple-Advantage.

    So, what did I do? I enrolled, printed my credit report, and then called the 1-800 number in the email they sent me and canceled it. Trust me, it’s not that hard.

  6. kaptainkk says:

    The whole freaking credit scoring system / credit reporting agencies are a scam. They are totally unfair and discriminatory.

  7. shadax says:

    I agree that sites like this and their purveyors should burn in your local religious hotspot, but it CLEARLY states that it is not free. It’s a bit of a stretch to call that decent-sized text “fine print” at all. Many corporations have employees whose sole purpose is figuring out how to prey on ignorance, skirt grey areas, etc. to separate you from your cash. Don’t go to the battle of wits unarmed.

  8. koreanforrabbit says:

    I actually signed up for this a couple of months back. There have been some issues on my CBR, which I discovered when I received my free yearly report about six months ago, and I wanted to check to see if they had been resolved. I saw that freecreditreport.com would give me a month of no service at no charge, and…well, I like things that are free. Lucky for me I read the fine print; as soon as I had my credit report printed out, I called to cancel. It took a few minutes of saying “No…no…no…”, but cancel me they did. I didn’t get any sort of scammy vibe from them – their terms are plainly stated on the website, and I’ve never received any charges from them.

  9. MikeB says:

    There is a new one out there too, Freetriplecreditreport.com Saw the commercial this weekend.

  10. qwickone says:

    @ucdcsteve: FYI, you have your own score and there is also a combined score of you and your spouse. I know this because I review Equifax reports on a regular basis as part of my job (banker). We always use the individual score even if it’s a joint loan (we enter both scores separately), but other banks may use the combined score.

  11. econobiker says:

    @Tightlines: It is that funny little asterisk. That little symbol that links all sales blurbs to the legal descriptions. Fear the asterisk.*

    *Extra fees, regulatory recovery costs, and taxes may apply. Enrollment in a highly overpriced credit monitoring plan is required to receive your free credit report. Not all consumers meet the stringent credit requirements to receive the best rates in this offer- usually just a couple of our company’s executives only qualify. Your mileage may vary…

  12. econobiker says:

    @Nogard13: The phrase “the offer applies to enrollment in Tripple-Advantage.” should be
    “the offer applies to paying for Tripple-Advantage.”

    But that wouldn’t make the company money, would it?

  13. crabbyman6 says:

    @Pylon83: @koreanforrabbit: Agreed, I signed up for this a little while ago too to find out my credit score(you don’t get that from the free government ones, but a lot is based off it, this always puzzled me). They make it fairly obvious that you only get this free for a month and after that they charge you. Also, it was pretty easy to cancel the service and the CSR was no ruder than any other one I’ve experienced. It is kind of mis-leading, but I thought they did a pretty good job letting me know that I was going to be paying for this after a month. I mean, the “fine” print isn’t even all that fine.

  14. 0x12is18 says:

    Sorry, but you’ll get no sympathy here. If you just keep clicking through the site without reading it, you get what you deserve. I can’t tell you how many computers I’ve had to clean up when people have the same attitude with viral pop-ups: let’s just click and install this application because it tells me to.

    You should look at this as a cheap lesson learned.

  15. MimiCaciss says:

    The same thing happened to me recently. Though, I am very aware of the
    difference between annualcreditreport.com and freecreditreport.com. I
    had somehow been mislead and linked outward to the free site, only two
    find, two months later the charge on my credit card. The first time I
    saw it (because of the misleading CIC labeling) I was under the
    impression it was another charge.

    Like you, I called, threatened to have it charged back by my credit
    card and report them to the state’s Attorney General. They quickly
    processed my request and I saw the refund within a week.

    Nonetheless though, I am fully aware of where to get my real FREE
    credit report. Yet somehow, I was linked outside of this site and
    taken advantage of without my knowledge. Be very careful about what
    offers you’re getting linked to outside of annualcreditreport.com

    -Doug

  16. ltlbbynthn says:

    It’s kind of obvious that you are signing up for a year of credit monitoring. Well, when I did it back in January you had a whole month to cancel, and I cancelled over email and it was easy. Now it says you have seven days. They are getting slicker!

  17. ospreyguy says:

    How was it charged to you if you didn’t put in your credit card info? Quick lesson, if you’re on a website advertising “free” and then asks for a credit card, chances are it isn’t and you should read the parts you skipped.

  18. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    There is a lot of common sense that goes into saying you shouldn’t sign up for this. But you know, there’s also a lot that’s said for fine print and fast mumbling at the end of your commercials that just screams “scam”. So maybe you wouldn’t fall for it, but a lot of people would, and just because you can see through it doesn’t mean it’s right.

    On a semi-related note, damn those jingles are the “Garfield 1-23-23″ of our time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you must not be from Cleveland… I don’t know what a similar phenomenon that took place nationwide would be… cha-ching, maybe?

  19. ckaught78 says:

    As with others I have no sympathy. A little common sense goes a long way. Over the last few years I have used this service a couple of times, each time cancelling immediately after I sign up. And after each time I cancelled I was still able to use the service for the free 30-days they advertise.

  20. perruptor says:

    How are they allowed to call it “free” if it’s not?

    Because of their participation in the Free Market.

  21. warf0x0r says:

    If you’re supplying a credit card number to be charged for something…

    It’s not free!

    thanks to consumerist I’ve been getting free reports for the last year now (every 4 months)… ever since my free one year of credit monitoring expired, which I got when the new company I work for lost a laptop from payroll. >_<

  22. snoop-blog says:

    Meg,

    You would get blown away by the amount of people I explain this to, and they all act like it doesn’t matter. They always say, “does annualcreditreport.com give you your credit score?” and they don’t so I say “no”. Then they say something like “well I don’t mind paying because I want my score.” I tell them that annualcreditreport.com sells you your credit score for about $10, but they act is if I’m trying to scam them, or like I’m getting some sort of kickback for referring people or something.

  23. fukngrvn says:

    i worked for experian back in the day and it all boils down to reading the fine print. call, complain, get your money back and next time read the fine print.

  24. mac-phisto says:

    i tell people this every day – DO NOT give someone your card # unless you are ready for them to charge your account for something. i don’t care what it is – handing over a METHOD OF PAYMENT kind of precludes that something is free, doesn’t it?

  25. Jubilance22 says:

    I got caught up with this company back when it first started, with those cute little “get your free credit score now!” ads on websites. I didn’t mind paying for the service, but I could NEVER access my credit reports, so I finally decided to cancel. When I called, the woman on the phone tried every trick in the book to get me to not cancel. I must have said “I want to cancel” 50 times before she finally cancelled my account. Good riddance.

  26. JN2 says:

    I tried getting my honest-for-goodness annual credit report that everyone here gushes about and STILL couldn’t get one. Seems I had ordered one when getting scammed by freecreditreport.com but it was never actually delivered. Doesn’t seem to matter and if I start to argue with such people on the phone, someone is going to die.

  27. Jonbo298 says:

    File a complaint with the BBB. I had done this (stupid decision) but I called and canceled within the 30 days. It didn’t cancel. I called, re-canceled but they refused to credit me because they have no record I called and I know I did.

    Filed a complaint with the BBB, and magically got my $15 back.

  28. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    Thanks to The Consumerist’s reporting this a week or so ago, I observed the latest commercial for this trap (dressed as musician pirates at restaurant..how charming) and the ending does have (in small print) that the advanced features are for the fee-based service only.

    There is nothing free with this company.

    I’m rather PO’d at the channel that airs these marketers (Grill Daddy!, Those weird vacuum lids and the slurring fat chef, weed control machines, that computer video training crook,…)

  29. Chris H says:

    This is entirely the fault of the Federal Trade Commission, which approved of freecreditreport.com’s fraudulent practices.

  30. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    The Free Credit Report.com lead singer is in fact, not singing, nor is he even American. He’s French Canadian.

    Deceptive marketing practices, indeed.

    BTW, do you really see something coming at you like an “atom bomb”? As most nuclear weapons are airburst, you’d have to be looking at the sky at the minute it went off, and even if you did, it would be the last thing you’d ever see, due to flash burns from the detonation.

  31. Coelacanth says:

    I’ve used this service. I’ve signed up for it a few times to monitor my credit during some major life changes. It’s very clear that they’re not a free service, and that only the first credit report is free.

    I knew I had 30 days to cancel, or I would be charged with a membership fee.

    The OP was acting extremely irresponsibly. If he doesn’t read over a website in which he has to disclose extremely personal information carefully, there’s not much helping him.

  32. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    He got ripped off by freecreditreport.com? So that explains why he’s dressed up like a pirate in this restaurant and driving off the lot in used subcompact.

    Those catchy ads are really paying off for them.

  33. henrygates says:

    I personally don’t think they should be able to advertise the way they do, even though they have fine print that explains what the service really is. Why not let all businesses do it?

    BRAND NEW CORVETTE FOR $5,000!*

    *Corvette is actually a 2002 Cavalier.

  34. Etoiles says:

    I got signed up for FreeCreditReport.com when I ordered an actual service from Experian.

    I ordered a one-time, full credit report with FICO score etc (the free ones don’t have this) for $4.95. I never got the PIN I needed to log into said credit report or account, and suddenly two weeks later I was getting the $14.95 Triple Advantage bill, too.

    Luckily, by the time I got suckered in like that, Consumerist was rife with stories and I was a reader, so I had the numbers handy and had pretty much no trouble getting them to cancel my “service.”

  35. PlanetExpressdelivery says:

    For the idiots who keep stating that “consumers should read the fine print”, and “they know what they’re getting into”;
    why doesn’t FCR advertise this deal as “Enroll in Triple Advantage and get a free credit report”? That seems to make more sense. I could probably make a ton of money by saying “Get a free glass of lemonade…after you sign up for my unnecessary credit monitoring service”. They don’t advertise it for what it is, they plug the free stuff and shove the actual commitment to the side in the hopes that the consumer is not paying close attention. Deceptive advertising at it’s finest.

    That, and if I ever see the band members who sign those ridiculous songs, I’m going to run them down with my truck.

  36. Snakeophelia says:

    @ucdcsteve: THANK YOU. That commercial drives me particularly nuts, since the only way that her credit could be standing in the way of him having a house is because she makes plenty of money and he doesn’t. Thus, he needs to file for a mortgage loan jointly in order to show the combined income, but is then affected by her bad credit.

    And how do I know he doesn’t make any money? Because he’s hanging out jamming with his stupid garage band while his wife is doing all the housework! What a choad!

    Yes, I know I’m overthinking and overreacting to this silly commercial, but it sticks in my craw nonetheless. :)

  37. timmus says:

    Memo to industry: Police yourself before government does it for you!

  38. floraposte says:

    @shadax: But it also clearly states that it is free. It’s right there in the name and the jingle. If the clear statement that it’s paid contradicts another clear statement, I don’t think it can be called “clear.”

  39. Triborough says:

    The credit reporting agencies are sleazy scammers to begin with.

  40. orielbean says:

    So what part is free? None at all.

  41. rpm773 says:

    I’ll sheepishly admit I fell for this, but it was back in early 2003 – before the days of the annual credit reports. When I was hit with an $80 charge 1 year later, I called to complain. I got my money back, although the fact they were so willing to capitulate made me more suspicious. And then I learned they were affiliated with Experian and was disgusted.

  42. LisaMarie says:

    FYI – FreeCreditReport.com is run by Experian. I have a friend who has worked there for a few years as a “user experience manager” for FreeCreditReport.com.

  43. BrAff says:

    In regular size print, directly over the submit button (on the page where you provide your credit card number)… They basically give you one “drink” for free and you have to pay if you want to keep on drinking on a regular basis…

    Payment Information
    When you order your free report here, you will begin your free trial membership in Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring. If you don’t cancel your membership within 9 days of enrollment, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership. If you are not satisfied, you can cancel at any time to discontinue the membership and stop the monthly billing; however, you will not be eligible for a pro-rated refund of your current month’s paid membership fee.

    Click “Submit Secure Order” to accept the Terms and Conditions above, acknowledge receipt of our Privacy Notice and agree to its terms, confirm your authorization for ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company, to obtain your credit report and submit your secure order.

  44. desertdust says:

    OP probably has spyware on their computer also. 50 dollar gift for free, sure. Nude pictures of Barbara Bush, sure. Broklyn Bridge.

  45. Stonecutter says:

    I fell for this about a year ago, and the worst part is that they don’t show you your FICO score! When we applied for a loan for a car, our bank said that there was a ding on my wife’s credit report. Having no idea what it was, we signed up for the service. They gave my wife a “PLUS” score of 730. When we actually saw her FICO score, it was 638.

  46. coan_net says:

    Always read the fine print

    Always read the fine print

    Always read the fine print

    Always read the fine print

    Always read the fine print

  47. RStewie says:

    I was buying a house, got my credit report to see what was up, and then got my actual credit score from the mortgage company. Just ask for it, they don’t mind telling you.

    The person I talked to also told me where I was relatively to other people’s scores, and also how that would affect my loan.

  48. TechnoDestructo says:

    I think it’s sick that a company (Experian) which is part of the industry that not only basically makes identity theft possible, but makes it the life-destroying threat that it has become is allowed to make money exploiting the fear of the consequences that are only possible because of their other services.

  49. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @COELACANTH: I have too. I signed up because I wanted to see how my credit score changed each month as I was paying off credit cards and because I was getting ready to buy a car. But, I knew I was paying for the service. It says it when you sign up and asks you for credit card info. It’s a lesson to people to make sure you always read everything on what you are agreeing to.

  50. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Stonecutter:

    So what was actually wrong with her report that Freecreditreport.com didn’t tell you?

    You could always call them up and say “I married my dream girl, but YOU didn’t tell me her credit was bad.”

  51. mlradio says:

    Sorry, but I gotta side with the majority of the commenters here and say “no sympathy, read the fine print”. As noted by several commenters already, it is *very* clear on the website that anyone signing up for the service is agreeing to enrollment in a credit monitoring service for a fee. Anyone who does not read the disclaimers and fine print (*especially* when handing over your credit card number) is just asking for it.

    Yes, the company’s pitch is pretty slimy, but the world has always been filled with snake-oil salemen and offers-with-a-catch. It’s just a new twist on an old slick-saleman pitch.

  52. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    @TechnoDestructo: I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  53. hottiearchitect says:

    call your credit card company and explain the situation, they will likely remove the charge. I placed an order from a company online, using my credit card, and it asked me if I would like a free trial membership in something and there was no way to reject it but there were 2 buttons on the screan, I ACCEPT and YES – I used the X in the corner to close the box. A month later I got a weird charge on my card. I called the credit card company and they tracked it down, gave me the contact phone number for the company and removed the charge adding a note to not accept charges from this again. The company stated I was given an option but I am not a moron, I had no option on my screen.

  54. timmus says:

    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.

    To add to what the OP said, I have been locked out of my TransUnion account for FIVE YEARS now on my “annualcreditreport” access. I always get prompted for a username and password, and the password recovery options come up with errors, forcing me to write via snail mail for my report. I am sure TransUnion is doing this intentionally to steer me to their paid reports . In 2005, I actually gave in and bought one to see what would happen. Suddenly I don’t have to cough up a login!

    I’m damn sure supporting any legislation that puts a leash on the credit bureaus, assuming our representatives even give a lick about privacy/credit issues.

  55. ThePantsParty says:

    @Braff:

    Exactly. And it’s not even like they wait until the credit card page to tell you that. It’s on the very front page when you first go to the website, in large print, in a blue box, with “important notice” above it. If someone is completely illiterate they shouldn’t be using the internet in the first place.

  56. drjayphd says:

    @timmus: It might help if the bureaus asked for relevant information. One of the questions TransUnion asked me to verify my identity was about my most recent job. After plugging in just about every answer I could think of, I got locked out of online access, only to discover that TransUnion was asking about a job I had in college. FIVE YEARS AGO.

  57. Tiber says:

    What I never got is how the mere fact that they advertise heavily on TV isn’t a huge tip-off that they may be trying to make a profit off you. When was the last time any business gave you something for free without purchase besides a pen or a sample at the grocery store?

  58. I shoulda gone to Freeeee Credit…Report dot com. I would have seen this comin’ at me like an atom bomb.

    /sanity

  59. Shadowman615 says:

    No offense meant here, but I just went to freecreditreport.com and it says right there on the front page:
    IMPORTANT INFORMATION
    When you order your free report here, you will begin your free trial membership in Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring. If you don’t cancel your membership within the 7-day trial period**, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership

    It’s not even fine print. Or even legalese.

  60. mythago says:

    @0x12is18: I’m still not getting the attitude that whether a company is or is not behaving ethically depends on how much sympathy you have toward the people it scams.

  61. twotondawg says:

    Is it a scam if fcr.com does exactly what they say they are going to do? I checked my credit report a few months ago and wasnt “strong armed” to anything. Pay up OP; you werent paying attention.

  62. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @twotondawg: I don’t think it’s a scam since they say on their site they will charge you. I guess their commercials are a bit misleading but I haven’t paid that much attention to them to remember if they say anything in them about the charge.

    I don’t consider it a scam if you put your credit card info into a site and didn’t read everything you were agreeing to. I’m sorry this person got billed when they didn’t expect it but, I’ve been on this site before. I used it over a year ago to get my credit score and then cancelled within a couple days. Unless this story is really old and they didn’t say they would bill you then, I would consider it a lesson in reading everything on a site to know what you are getting in to.

  63. BrianDaBrain says:

    I’m not one for “blame the customer” posts, but come on. Read the stuff before you sign up. It adds an extra 5-10 minutes to your websurfing, but it pays dividends in money saved.

    This isn’t a scam really, because it says right there, in plainly intelligible print, that the service is not FREE (right under that banner that says IMPORTANT INFORMATION – that means you should probably read it). You get a FREE credit report when you sign up for this monthly service that you PAY for.

    On the page where you enter your credit card information, there’s a whole section titled “Payment Information” that describes how you’re going to be billed, plus it has another blurb about it not being related to the credit report we’re all entitled to under federal law. It’s not like they’re misleading anybody. The fact that the service isn’t free is written all over the site. People just need to read before clicking random buttons.

  64. SomeoneGNU says:

    @Tiber:

    Everything on TV is true, even the stuff that contradicts other stuff.

  65. snoop-blog says:

    If you have to put the word “Free” in the name of your company, my first thought is “what’s the catch?” because it’s not free, nothing is, in order to give you something for free, they’ve got to be doing something else that’s not. So my questions are, who’s paying for my “free” stuff and why are they? If you can’t answer those 2 questions, it’s a scam.

  66. snoop-blog says:

    @snoop-blog: To back up my previous comment: http://www.annualcreditreport.com is giving you one free credit report per year…

    Q#1- who’s paying for it?, the government.

    Q#2- why are they paying for it?, – because it’s your right to be able to get one free credit report per year.

  67. PlanetExpressdelivery says:

    Negative Billing Option
    Sleazy Marketing
    Misrepresentation

    It’s the same thing freecreditreport.com shares with John Commuta, Video Professor, and countless other shiesters. They all suck and blow at the same time.

  68. BrandonW says:

    I just got hit with this. The wife pulled the reports for us and didn’t read the fine print. I was going through the bank statement and noticed the same line the OP did. I did a little research and then went and had a talk with the missus. We’ve since gotten it taken care of, meaning canceled, but not refunded. It was our mistake and asking for our money back wouldn’t have been right.

    Oh, and she now reads the fine print.

  69. halo969 says:

    If there is fine print and you don’t read it, shame on you.

  70. threlkelded says:

    Hint: You don’t have to enter your credit card information to get the free report.

  71. MikeHerbst says:

    I blame the catchy tunes on the commercials. The one about working at a seafaring tourist restaurant makes me sing-along every time.

    I never see the original anymore though, the one about living in his new bride’s parent’s basement because her credit sucks… Love it!

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  74. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I think we should all know by now that when something is “free”, but asks for your credit card info.. it probably isn’t free.

    I don’t recall exactly, but during the real free credit report, they don’t ask for any credit card information. They might ask you like the first or last set of number blocks, but not your entire credit card number.

    And sadly, it looks like FreeCreditReport has been increasing the airplay of those commercials. I guess credit monitoring is a profitable business these days.

  75. Floyd84 says:

    After I read this story I decided to check my reports from annualcreditreport.com. I filled out the forms at ACR.com and was directed to a page to select which reporting agencie(s) I would like to get my report from.
    I chose Experian simply because it was first on the list. Experian then took me through a two-page opt out for triple advantage before displaying my report. The first page was a sales pitch for triple advantage, which had several options for pay services linked by brightly colored buttons and on the very bottom had a grey button marked “No, thanks, I would just like to receive my free credit report.”
    Im kind of annoyed that even when you are directed from the official government site that you have to go through their sales pitch. I could definately see senior citizens and other less web savvy people being railroaded by this ambush advertising.

  76. Android8675 says:

    How you know it’s not really free…

    Well they have a TV commercial for one… DUAAA!

    If you’re checking your credit report I hope you’re smart enough to know a scam when you see one. Wait, lemme guess, you sell Amway too?

  77. scoosdad says:

    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.

    And that’s exactly why you get the first month free… it’s so that if you didn’t know you had signed up for it and that it would cost you money, by the time it shows up on your cc statement after two months, it’s too late to cancel.

    @MikeHerbst:

    the one about living in his new bride’s parent’s basement because her credit sucks… Love it!

    And what’s the messsage to that one? Check out the credit-worthiness of your betrothed before you tie the knot cuz maybe you might want to change your mind?

    What a scam. The FTC should do the right thing and as a minimum, force them to use a different URL and/or company name. Their whole business model revolves around people being stupid, and there’s no shortage of that.

  78. SuffolkHouse says:

    Key words here are “and score.” You don’t get the score with the free credit report, but you do at “freecreditreport.com”

    It is a huge scam, but considering Bush has pulled back on regulating anything that won’t immediately harm his family, I’ve never been surprised that nothing has happened to them.

    Total bullshit.

  79. LostAngeles says:

    I did this a few years ago and when I realized I was being charged and went back and looked at the site, I accepted it for a bit, because I didn’t read the fine print. When I did decide to cancel it a few months later, the CSR acted as if she was personally offended that I didn’t want their incredibly awesome service.

    Since then I’ve taken the time to read the fine print on everything.

  80. Dyscord says:

    The commercials are semi true. Yeah it is important to check your credit score, but the consequences are exaggerated. Having your identity stolen is bad, but it wont land you in a crappy restaurant in a pirate suit. My personal favorite is the one about marrying his dream girl. I know most couples use their combined scores to help, but if your new wife’s score is bad and you still can’t get a house, then chances are YOUR SCORE IS JUST AS BAD.

    Am I the only one who finds it annoying that any place under the sun can get your credit score, but you have to jump through hoops? I remember a car salesman telling me about my report and adding that “by law, I’m not allowed to show you.”

  81. Yeah, I know the scandal about these commercials, not a fan of the company, but I totally want a gang-bang with those three band dudes.

  82. kaitlind says:

    I don’t think people should be so hard on this person accidentally getting signed up. I was on another credit report website and somehow through clicking links, ended up with these charges. I was careful to read the fine print and it still happened. It is deceptive if they don’t show you the enrollment thing if you’re not entering their site from the main freecreditreport.com page. Only when I went back to the company’s homepage did I see the agreement for credit card charges.

    Anyways, when I called amex on it, they said they’d open an investigation to see if the claim was true. The guy put me on hold for a second before he got my info. He came back and said something along the lines of “so many of our customers have had a problem with this site that we will refund the money without the investigation period. We won’t let them do this to our customers.”

    I was happy :) it was the first time I got to see the supposed awesome amex customer service in action.

  83. Etoiles says:

    @Dyscord: Am I the only one who finds it annoying that any place under the sun can get your credit score, but you have to jump through hoops? I remember a car salesman telling me about my report and adding that “by law, I’m not allowed to show you.”

    Really? In 2005, my then-boyfriend and I were apartment hunting in New York City (mostly Upper East Side, Manhattan and Park Slope, Brooklyn). Long story short, an apartment we’d placed a deposit on fell through because NYC totally sucks like that, but the company we were working with (I suddenly can’t remember the word for a real estate agent who only works with rentals; I blame this lovely glass of wine I’ve just finished) gave us copies of the credit reports they’d pulled for us and said, “We’re sorry we can’t help you but at least you can save yourself $25 per person when you do find an apartment. By law, anyone else is required to take these unless they’re more than 30 days old.”

    That leads me to wonder if this is regulated at the federal level, or at the state level…

  84. Snowlovers says:

    At the risk of being disemvoweled – in plain type, on the main page of ferrcreditreport.com, in a prominent box, no less, it says:
    “IMPORTANT INFORMATION

    When you order your free report here, you will begin your free trial membership in Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring. If you don’t cancel your membership within the 7-day trial period**, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership.
    ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. and Freecreditreport.com are not affiliated with the annual free credit report program. Under a new Federal law, you have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. To request your free annual report under that law, you must go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com.”

    If you can’t be bothered to read the fine print, at least READ THE NORMAL PRINT!

    And to reiterate what others have said – if you have to give your credit card info, chances are it’s not “free”.

  85. ThePantsParty says:

    @Dyscord:

    They get it because they HAVE bought a subscription service with the same companies everyone here has to use. I work for Time Warner, who pays massive sums of money to Equifax be able to have access to the credit reports. It’s not like the credit report companies are giving them to businesses as charity; they have to pay too.

  86. Raziya says:

    I can’t deny how catchy the ads are though, even though I hate that guy in the commercial…the song is always stuck in my head.

  87. Sometimes these “whiners” aren’t looking for your sympathy. Sometimes, they just want to share their story to caution others. Ya know?

  88. god_forbids says:

    “It’s followed by the usual legalize eye-watering disclaimers.”

    /sympathy

    It’s there to be read. You think you could just charge it back if you had signed away your left gonad and the life of your firstborn, too? Read what you sign people, legal contract and all that unsexy personal responsibility are sure to follow.

  89. ckaught78 says:

    @scoosdad: “And what’s the messsage to that one? Check out the credit-worthiness of your betrothed before you tie the knot cuz maybe you might want to change your mind?”

    Just remember though, if you do change you mind she might come back and sue you.

  90. StevieQ says:

    Yes, caveat emptor and all, but the name of the product is “FREEcreditreport.com”. That implies to most people it’s something free. It’s more like a “free trial offer”, as in a magazine. You have to cancel in x days or you pay. I work at a magazine publisher; we have to be clear that it’s a free TRIAL OFFER, not a FREE MAGAZINE.

    IMO, they should be forced to change their name to something less misleading. Then, as in magazines, offer a free trial of their service, which includes a free credit report. I think people would understand this better.

    However, they clearly profit from the confusion, so it’s not likely unless they are forced.

  91. t0fu says:

    despite their shady marketing tools, the service is pretty decent.

    I signed up for it just to see what it was like, called to cancel after about a week and rep gave me 3 free months.

  92. Gopher bond says:

    @mac-phisto: i tell people this every day – DO NOT give someone your card # unless you are ready for them to charge your account for something. i don’t care what it is – handing over a METHOD OF PAYMENT kind of precludes that something is free, doesn’t it?

    That’s about it. No company, anywhere, needs your credit card information for any other purpose than to charge you. They might say it’s needed to verify something or other or they may agree to wait a month or seven days and they may even be truthful and up front about giving you that time to try it out before you cancel but make no mistake about it, if you’re giving your credit card information to some company, they will use it to charge you. So if you ever provide credit card information, assume you will be charged without some further action on your part.

  93. DownwardSpiral says:

    This same type of thing happened to me a couple years ago, before FCR started airing those obnoxious commercials, and before I came across the consumerist. I read the fine print and knew I had to cancel to make sure I didn’t get charged, but I remember going all over their website and not finding a single place anywhere mention how I could do that (not even saying ‘to cancel call customer service’). So I kind of forgot about it, and like the guy in the story I noticed the charge, called and had to deal with a rude woman who sounded like she hated life. I asked her if it was possible to cancel the subscription on their website, to which she said a condescending ‘yes’, then I asked her to walk me through how to cancel my subscription on the website and she just hung up on me.

    I was so angry but I learned the lessons everyone is saying up here: Always read the fine print… remember that if I gave credit card info I should expect to be charged… and most valuable of all, if I need to cancel *any* service via calling customer service, I should always tell them I *love* the service, and will come back to it in a couple months, but I am facing ‘large medical bills’ or ‘family emergency’ and need to cut costs.

  94. dayron422 says:

    @StevieQ: Yes, “FREEcreditreport.com”, NOT “FREEcreditreports.com”. You get one free credit report. If you want to continue to use the service for more reports, its not free. I know it slimy, but I used it, once. I got my credit report and immediately called and canceled. You know why?

    1. I’m not stupid enough to believe anything on the internet that says “FREE” in the title is free.

    2. I read the fine print, saw the pending charge, and decided to take advantage of them instead the other way around.

    The way I see it, I scammed them because I got my free credit report and didn’t get suckered. Of course this all happened right before I discovered the actually free federal service at annualcreditreport.com. (Notice, it does not say “free” in the title so it could actually be free) Now, I use that once a year.

    Just read what you’re clicking on. If it says its free, its usually not!

  95. ELC says:

    @Pylon83: I totally agree with this sentiment:

    Absolutely no sympathy here. It clearly says on the website that it’s not actually free, and that it signs you up for a monthly service. This is why it’s imperative to read the fine print.

  96. Zephyr7 says:

    @shadax: I can just see the conversation at FreeCreditReport headquarters:

    “How can we make it REALLY CLEAR that this is not free?”

    “I know! Let’s put it in the fine print!”

  97. bubbledumpster says:

    Oh, you poor poor IDIOT. Welcome to Capitalism.

  98. blackmage439 says:

    Bottom line: If a company requires you to pay a fee for a free service, it is NOT free. This website’s very name is false advertising.

    Not to mention, their commercials spew outright lies. The fine folks at Consumerist already pointed this out. Saying “my girlfriend’s lousy credit stopped me from being a happy bachelor with a dog and a yard” is completely and utterly false. Your spouse’s credit history does NOT impact yours. Even if she has a crappy score of 600, that’s still a bonus added to whatever your score is in determining a mortgage.

    Finally, has anyone noticed their commercials are just getting WORSE? Besides the topics, the songs are getting shittier, and that fag’s singing is starting to sound like nails on a chalkboard…

  99. harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:

    It is a scam, and they are relying on people being in a hurry or not taking the time to read the fine print. Perhaps you have nothing better to do in your life than read 50 pages of legal bullshit, but some of us have actual jobs we have to attend to so we can’t spend all day reading nonsense from a site that markets itself as “free” even though it is not in any way free.