CARD Act Includes Limits On Not-So-Free Credit Report Ads

A less-reported provision of the CARD Act, the credit card reform bill signed by President Obama on Friday, puts limits on ads promoting that old Consumerist nemesis, “free” credit reports.

The law calls for the Federal Trade Commission to issue new rules that will force free credit report advertisers to inform consumers that the only place for a free credit report is

Television and radio ads will also be required to include a pretty deflating statement: “This is not the free credit report provided for by Federal law.”

YAY! Wait, though. That’s not the funny part.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page on that Huffington Post article. The automatically-generated Google ad is for…’s a hideous banner ad at the top of the page for a similar service right now, too. Ah, contextual advertising.

Credit Card Law Will Curb Ads [Huffington Post] (Thanks to Tim for alerting us to this!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    Irony, thy name is!

  2. TShK says:

    I can’t wait to see how they try to work that into an annoyingly catchy song

  3. Jessica Haas says:

    I’ve always wondered how they can advertise something like that, and not actually have it be free. Isn’t that false advertising?

    • valueofaloonie says:

      @Jessica Haas: Technically, the credit report *is* free. It’s the Triple A enrollment that you’re paying for. It’s all about semantics.

    • econobiker says:

      @Jessica Haas: Because people are STUPID they market it as a “Free Report with ENROLLEMENT in Triple A.”

      Note well the symantics of ENROLLMENT versus PURCHASE which is what they do NOT say.

    • Jason Giglio says:

      @Jessica Haas: Contrary to popular belief, “false advertising” is not directly against the law. It can subject you to FTC actions (often civil, not criminal), but the FTC is probably the most ineffective federal agencies.

  4. jfischer says:

    The URL for must, to comply with the law, be changed to:

    So, problem solved, for all but the most willful of the gullible

  5. silver-bolt says:

    Someone should make the first valid and pro-consumer use of the ICANN UDRP and take over that website and point it to the real one.

  6. Nick Wright says:

    Does Triple Advantage actually do anything remotely useful?

  7. jfischer says:

    The URL for must, to comply with the law, be changed to:

    FreeCreditReportButNotTheFreeCreditReportProvidedForByFederalLaw .com

    So, problem solved, for all but the most willful of the gullible

  8. Bahnburner says:

    “Tell your dad, tell your friends, tell your mom…”

  9. shepd says:

    This is not the free credit report provided for by Federal law… …It’s EVEN BETTER, now jam packed with FICO matter! Get yours “FREE” today!

  10. bohemian says:

    First they took on the auto warranty robo callers, now this. Is Cash 4 Gold next? Please?

    • scoosdad says:

      @bohemian: I’m still waiting for the FTC’s website to recognize the word “spam” in the spellchecker attached to their online … wait for it …. spam complaint form!

      Got a screen capture of it here that’s hilarious.

    • RvLeshrac says:


      I see no reason for them to go after Cash4Gold, excepting that you don’t get an estimate until after you’ve shipped the jewelry to them.

      Other than that, it isn’t any different from a pawn shop.

  11. Nighthawke says:

    You’ve been a baad boy.. Momma spank!


  12. Digitizer says:

    “Give me your money for no reason”? Wouldn’t someone have to be either unconscious or clinically insane to do anything for “no reason”?

    • Antony Aumann says:

      @Digitizer: I don’t think even those examples would work: (a) the insane person surely does things for reasons (albeit bad ones); (b) the unconscious person can hardly be said to *do* anything at all — he or she lacks agency. If you insist that the unconscious person still does things such as breathe, I would respond by saying that there are perfectly good reasons why he or she does them. These reasons would simply be biological and not psychological in nature. If you are inclined to bracket the biological/psychological distinction due to your reductionist proclivities, then my point applies with still more force: the unconscious person acts for reasons just as much as the conscious person does.

  13. sanjsrik says:

    Couldn’t they just solve this by renaming the Website: ?

  14. Allen Harkleroad says:

    I Love IT! Screw the free(not) scammers.

  15. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    Obi-wan Kenobi is working for the FTC?

    This is not the free credit report you are looking for. You can go about your business. Move along, move along.

  16. AgitatedDot says:

    I used them once 3 years ago. Got the report and immediately sent a cancellation request via email. They responded the same day to confirm my account was cancelled.

    I still think it’s kinda wrong to do stuff they do because they know most of their revenue will come from people who don’t pay attention to the fine print. So I think this requirement is a good thing.

  17. Dr. Eirik says:

    I never understood the part of their ads that implies that because someone got their identity stolen they ended up working at the Crabby Patty or something. I know that there are jobs out there that require a credit check, but they are hardly all the good jobs in existence.

    • RStui says:

      @Dr. Eirik: I was always confused by the one where the guy got married and then admits that he wouldn’t have if he’d known her credit was bad.

      1. How do you not know about your spouse’s credit?
      2. ReallY? You wouldn’t marry her because of her credit rating?
      3. Why are you complaining about being in her parent’s basement while you’re sitting there with a BAND singing that OBNOXOUS song?
      4. If you’re so upset about it, why is SHE doing YOUR laundry?

      • mac-phisto says:

        @RStui: the irony of that particular ad is that it promotes identity theft. think about it: how would he have known her credit before they were married unless he ran it? that’s right – by using her personal information to access her credit report. YAY IDENTITY THEFT!

    • italianscallion33 says:

      @Dr. Eirik: I’ve always wondered the same thing!

    • Crabby Cakes says:

      @Dr. Eirik: Someone PLEASE explain the Ren. Faire to me! If you don’t know your credit score, you’ll be living in the dark ages?

  18. aheggs says:

    I just saw a commercial with nothing different. When is this law gunna take into effect?

    • italianscallion33 says:

      @aheggs: Those things usually don’t take effect right away. They probably have a few months to get it straight. The credit card companies get 9 months I think, so probably gets a while.

  19. West Coast Secessionist says:

    Whenever you see’s ads, click on them! You’re costing them money, and i can’t imagine the credit report keywords are cheap to bid on. So you could be screwing them for a buck or two every time you click on them. As a bonus, some of that money obviously goes to the site you’re on, so you’re transferring money from the scummiest operation on earth to your favorite blogger/etc.

    So get clicking!

  20. Saboth says:

    I went to the .gov website to get my free report the other day. I selected Equifax (whom I usually use), and when it got to the screen where I should be able to give me my free report, it said there was an error with the information I had submitted, and they would have to mail me the report. I declined and went through their website and paid $15 for a report, using the same info I had given the .gov website. Seemed shifty to me.

    • ajlei says:

      @Saboth: Were you not able to get it through Experian or TransUnion? I rarely check mine more than once a year but if I do, I just pick a different one. It works so you can check your report about every four months (in theory), though I’ve never tried it. I’d never pay for a report.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      @Saboth: I’ve heard that from a few readers. Checking into it.

  21. u1itn0w2day says:

    The credit score INDUSTRY is one of the cottage industries that grew out the credit card business . Now especially I think they are self perpetuating .

    The credit card companies will react by making it tougher to get credit and will at least temporarily make your credit score more important than it is . That means more people needing access to their score to play the game .

  22. PLATTWORX says:

    The owner if (Experian) should be barred from operating it and shut it down! Experian makes enough with cheating consumers with a gimmick like this. The name is NOT what it is and the ads are clearly aimed at people who don’t know better.

    It’s sleezy no matter how you explain it and designed to trick people. SHUT IT DOWN FTC.

    • econobiker says:

      @PLATTWORX: That is definitely a website the government should take via an eminent domain (indeed!) type grab.

      And put whitehouse . com next on the list to snatch up…

    • rickn99 says:

      The website never bothered me too much. It’s deceptive, but anything ‘free’ that requires a credit card — it ain’t free! Not exactly rocket science.

  23. Quilt says:

    What’s that sound? It…it sounds like wind being let out of sails.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I recently signed up for the credit monitor service because I have been getting some wierd calls recently about new lines of credit recently opened, and some bill collectors to. I am also a past victim of ID theft, so I tend to get paranoid.

    I was able to get my Experian report/score and there was an error. They told me they were blocked from getting my Equifax claiming my social is now non-existent in their files – so that’s a bunch of hoops to go through for a different post.

    I have been on their free trial to see the tools, but I haven’t been able to log in since that first day. I called tech support and they passed the buck claiming it was my computer, then my ISP. I challenged that response and asked for an escalated rep because I tried on 2 computers at work, my desktop at home, and my laptop (a crappy back up). I tried on my work ISP, my home ISP, and I actually have a broadband card with yet a third carrier for work when I travel.

    They promised to have a tech guy call back, they didn’t call. I sent a follow up email – no response.

    Tomorrow when they open, I cancel the FREE Trial and try another service that can provide the service they promise.