Your Take 

Your Take: Common Sense vs.

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Free Credit ReportIf you’ve ever watched a television in the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen the commercials with the guy playing the banjo. In recent months, Experian, the parent company of, has come under fire because:

  1. The credit reports are free, if you remember to cancel the trial (big if!).
  2. Consumers have been educated by the FTC that they can get a copy of their credit report for free once every 12 months, no strings attached… except they have to go to, not
  3. Consumers are, knowingly or unknowingly, signing up for the trial service, getting their free credit score and reports, and then not canceling. recently changed its name to as a result of new government regulation.

So, in early November, the Bucks blog on the New York Times wrote about how Senator Chuck Schumer of New York wants the FTC to force Experian to give you your free report and score before they ask for the credit card information. This was largely shelved because the CARD Act included a provision that required credit report services to include a disclaimer.

I understand the need to police overtly scammy negative option billing practices but how much intervention is too much? I think it was right for the FTC to force Experian to notify visitors to that they are not affiliated with the free credit report program. It’s also good that the site informs you that you are signing up for a free 7-day trial. It should also be clear that you will be charged for it after the trial because otherwise they wouldn’t ask for your credit card information! (to be clear, I’m fine with the regulation as it stands now… but I didn’t like Senator Schumer’s idea of forcing Experian to change their business practices in that way)

So at what point do we stop? At what point does common sense get completely thrown out and replaced with regulation? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this.

{ 72 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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72 Responses to “Your Take: Common Sense vs.”

  1. NewPerspective says:

    Let me add to this by saying that people can easily be duped by Experian into this scam without even knowing it. I went to the LEGITIMATE site, which linked me to Experian. They asked some security questions, which I answered accurately but they said I didn’t (turns out THEY had wrong information in their files about me!).

    So what happened? Without my knowledge, they then linked me to Me (thinking I’m on the legitimate Experian site, went through the links and got my credit report (no hassle with security questions this time!). It wasn’t until I got an e-mail thanking me for signing up that I realized what happened. I was furious. I then spent a good half hour on the phone waiting for a customer service rep and trying to convince them that I REALLY didn’t want their service.

    Not only is a scam, but Experian is too. It terrifies me that a company with such poor ethics has so much access to my personal information… all without my consent or control.

  2. I agree that individuals need to be responsible for their actions and purchases-but until financial literacy improves in our country then consumer protections need to be in place. This campaign is so clearly trying to take advantage of consumers’ lack of financial education.

  3. Jay says:

    It’s amazing how easy swayed people are to sign up for of buy everything on television. I think that O’bama should implement Bargaineering 101 into the curriculum of his education overhaul!

  4. Keith Morris says:

    It’s pretty sad that our culture has led us to expect deception in advertising, and that the expectation should be considered “common sense.”

    Just because a person lacks the “common sense” required to deal with these situations doesn’t make it right for a company to prey on their ignorance.

  5. It’s pretty obvious these guys are a marketing company and their catchy commercials are designed to take your money. It’s got to cost them a pretty penny to run these commercials.

    I don’t owe anyone anything, always pay my bills on time, and don’t really care about my credit score. I have no interest in their service, and won’t become one of their suckers. Caveat emptor always applies, especially on things that appear to be free. Never enter your credit card info for something that is advertised as free.

    • jsbrendog says:

      “Never enter your credit card info for something that is advertised as free.”

      this. “free trial” et all make me so skeptical. I understand sometimes for age verification if it is alcohol, naughty, etc., but mostly I am immediately clicking away with a no thanks.

  6. freeby50 says:

    For there is a history that is relevant. In 2005 the FTC sued them for deceptive practices and the company settled paying $950k for free reports and they agreed to stop using deceptive practices. And the statements on their website right now haven’t always been as prominent. Originally when this company came out they were a lot less forthcoming about their monthly charges and they simply tried to trick (or at least allowed) people to think their paid service with the government site.

    So this company is more like a criminal on probation than an innocent citizen.

  7. jsbrendog says:

    i signed up to get my free score before i knew about credit karma. and I cancelled on the 13th day, 1 before i had to. I had no problems. There was a page saying you were signing up and that you had to cancel in x days or would be charged x dollars. Honestly, if you cant’t handle that it is your own fault. I did this about a year ago and it was straightforward.

    • Strebkr says:

      I wish Credit Karma showed a little more detail. Their scores seem to be about 10-20 points lower then your actual scores reported to banks. I know this because I bought a house last year and during that process we had a minor issue which resulted in a few rescores and we got to pull our credit scores almost weekly for 3 months. During that time the Credit Karma score moved in the same direction as the real score, but it was always lower. Its not the be all end all of scores, but its free and it helps you keep an eye on the direction of your score.

      • jsbrendog says:

        yeah, it is not the same agreed. I did not know that it is usually lower. That makes me feel even better. For me, personally, it is high enough for me to be happy, but thinking the real one might add 10-20 points makes me want to jump for joy.

        credit karma for me is a barometer. if i don’t like what it says then I get an official fico and find out why by going over my credit report. for now though, it is right where it should be.

        i actually found out about it from here i believe.

  8. eric says:

    I still get a slimy feeling from FreeCreditReport…they’ve gotten better but not out of their own general good will it seems.

  9. Technosorceror says:

    I notice several posts defending FCR. You cannot go through life reading all eula aggreements in the world, just going to the store you have to get ready to go out, read all care labels on your clothing and cosmetics, read that car manual checking all fluids, read all signs on the road including the swap meet sales and garbage stuff. Anyway it would take a week to get anywhere so you could read all the signs in the front of store. We seem to have lost track of the fact that these “free” sites are preying on people by portraying their product/service as something it is not. These sites are posing as clueless entities who have no idea that the whole business is a sham. If they had any confidence in their own service they would offer the free week trial then just pester you afterward to subscribe.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I signed up for this to check my own credit prior to applying for a new credit card. I signed up one day, applied (and approved) for the new card that same day, called and cancelled my service the very next day. I was only charged $0.99 for something (can’t remember exactly what) but I was never charged the monthly fee of $15 or $20 since I cancelled in time. If you are looking to get this service though, call and cancel it first. They’ll offer you a lower rate in an attempt to get you to stay. So if you really ARE interested in keeping the service, still call to cancel it because you will have to opportunity to keep it and pay a lower price 🙂

  11. Anon says:

    what a bunch of dumbasses

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