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Is FreeCreditReport.com A Scam?

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FreeCreditScore.comOne of the best financial things you can do for yourself is to regularly check your credit report. Identity theft is a huge business with billions of losses each year, not to mention all the time it takes to unravel the mess, so checking regularly is a great way to catch a theft early. That’s why you saw so many FreeCreditReport.com commercials on TV with the guy playing a guitar and singing about his ID theft woes!

So what’s the deal with them? Weren’t they sued? Is it a scam?

Let’s find out.

FreeCreditReport.com recently changed its name to FreeCreditScore.com as a result of new government regulation.

How to get your real free credit report.

First, the best and only place you should go to get a no-strings-attached free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) is AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s the website set up by the government to handle your requests and to give you more information about your rights granted to you by the various consumer protection laws governing credit.

While the name of the site is technically accurate, you do get a free credit report, it’s simply not the best place to go.

FreeCreditReport.com Settlement

Despite the name of the site, which is otherwise run by a reliable company (the ultimate parent company is Experian, one of the three credit bureaus), FreeCreditReport.com is free only if you agree to sign up to a trial membership to their credit monitoring service. They settled with the FTC in 2005 for deceptive marketing practices and were required to pay out nearly a million dollars.

The reason it was deceptive was because you would get your free credit report and scores after you signed up to a trial membership to their credit monitoring service, which cost $79.95 a year. Since then, they’ve cleaned up their act and it’s very clear now that to get your score and report you are enrolled into a 30 day trial of their credit monitoring service.

Why do people use them?

Some people go to FreeCreditReport.com because they don’t know any better. Some people go knowing full well they’re signing up to a thirty day trial but they want to get a free credit score out of it. The law requires the credit bureaus to give you access to your credit report once a year but they are not required to give you your score.

If you want your score, you’ll have to buy it or sign up for one of these trials (here’s a list of trials for a free credit score). By taking advantage of the trial offer, consumers get their score and they can get it for free if they cancel the trial within 30 days.

Verdict?

It is not a scam. They make it very clear on their website that you are signing up to their credit monitoring service, Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring, and they’re very clear about how much the service costs, $14.95 a month. They’ve also made it clear that they aren’t even the best place to get your credit report, with a link to the government website.

Now if only they would stop running those annoying commercials. :)

{ 34 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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34 Responses to “Is FreeCreditReport.com A Scam?”

  1. tperko says:

    It is common to see this website, and many others with similiar trial periods, end up on ripoff report and scam review sites. It has become common for people to cry “SCAM!” instead of reading the terms and conditions to the box that they are checking before they click accept. I have a separate bank card that I use to sign up for these trial sites, and I set reminders in my Outlook a week before I have to cancel.

    • superch665 says:

      I agree. Not a scam if they disclose the terms and conditions, and you select “I accept”

      • U Bunch Of Fools says:

        Then call it trialcreditreport.com

        Do you see see people selling milk in a bar only to offer alcohol if you sign up for a trial?

        Deliberate misdirection is not good customer satisfaction. Thats like yelling at a customer because they show up to your store 5 minutes before opening. “Stupid customers. The should read the sign. And they blame me for being vain and snooty at them”.

        • Matticus says:

          Neither of those things is a scam. Not being customer friendly =/= a scam. The terms and conditions are there for anyone to read, as is the sign in your hypothetical. Nobody is foolish for saying the website isn’t a scam. It isn’t.

        • Nancy Markoff says:

          This is so accurate. We rely on integrity and customer service friendly companies. When anyone has a problem with a service or states they misread the agreement the company should take the high road in hopes of continuing in business with them at a later time or their friends. If anyone is stupid it is free credit report.

  2. My Journey says:

    I think the problem between “annual” and “free” – credit report, is that the annualcreditreport.com ends in .COM

    If it is a federally mandated item, why not throw it on the ftc.gov site with a link only to annualcreditreport? I think this would solve a ton of problems

    • jim says:

      Actually if you go to annualcreditreport.gov it redirects you to :
      http://www.ftc.gov/freereports
      Which then explains that annualcreditreport.com is the government mandated site. They have it at the .com site since its not actually ran by the governemnt but instead ran by the credit bureaus.

  3. I’ve used it in the past to see my credit score and then simply cancel the free trial. Of course, I had to say “no” in a varying degree of tones and volumes once I got someone on the phone, but they were polite and did what I asked them…on about the 6th request.

  4. Steven says:

    @My Journey

    The problem is it’s a private entity not run by the government, therefore it’s not allowed a .gov address.

    Also, there is a link to annualcreditreport on the ftc.gov website. Granted, I had to scroll down a bit to see it on the homepage.

    • My Journey says:

      You are right, “Annual Credit Report” seems to be sponsored by the 3 credit rating agencies.

      That being said, not sure why the FTC can’t create its own site with the .gov ending? I couldn’t imagine one of the 3 rating agencies putting up that much of a fight against the FTC.

      • mapgirl says:

        There’s a lot of fiscal conservatives that ironically would see a gov’t run site as a waste of money. So they push it off onto an industry trade group.

        Even so, AnnualCreditReport.com is fraught with pitfalls trying to make you subscribe to monitoring services. TransUnion is the worst of them because they won’t let you see anything without signing up permanently with an email address.

  5. Erik says:

    Check out a site called Credit Karma (http://www.creditkarma.com/). They provide ongoing free credit scores as well as information on how your score changes and what impacted it. I’ve been using it since the beginning of the year and it’s interesting to see exactly how it changes over time. It also does a great job of explaining things think hard inquires, soft inquiries, and what makes up a good score.

    Warning, their money-making technique is selling related products and services. It’s nothing intrusive and typically very useful.

    Cheers,
    Erik

    • tperko says:

      Erik, I’ve been using Credit Karma since October of 2008! Awesome plug, my credit score went up almost a full 100 points since using Credit Karma!

  6. Flexo says:

    It’s only recently that FCR added disclaimers and such to their site. For years they were running their business quite differently, leading people in with a promise of free credit reports, with no indication that they were not the federally-mandated website used to receive three annual free credit reports.

    And even now, they make it very difficult for people to cancel, but that’s typical of lots of subscription-based businesses.

    • George Jetson says:

      None of my family or friends have had any problem cancelling their accounts. AOL makes it difficult to cancel, FCR.com just tries to keep you by telling you what you have. If you tell them no, then they cancel it. I just wish all of my family and friends would listen to me when I tell them it’s a great program.

  7. Patrick says:

    This just goes to show just how much affect that a commercial can have on people. I never understood why people don’t do more research before signing up for a product or service like to make sure there are not catches. Just because they have free in their name doesn’t mean that it’s a free service.

  8. tyler says:

    Those commercials are catchy I kinda like them

  9. eric says:

    the domain name sucks but at least you’re told upfront. still, i would call it shady.

  10. anonymous says:

    The domain name may be a little deceptive, but that’s great marketing. It grabs people’s attention and makes them curious about the service being offered:)

    • U Bunch Of Fools says:

      Appeal to the lowest common denominator. No wonder this country is in so much hardship.

  11. Damon Day says:

    Their commercials are so effective that Annualcreditreport.com has recently started running commercials of their own featuring some dude playing a guitar. If you can’t beat em, join em huh :-)

  12. they'regreedypigs says:

    THE TRIAL PERIOD IS ONLY SEVEN DAYS!!

    A lot of people think it’s 30 days free trial period, when it’s actually only a week. Because of this misnomer, a lot of people are still being charged without their knowing a week after they sign up for their “free credit report.”

    If there is a class action lawsuit going on again, I would like to get more information.

    • George Jetson says:

      if you read it’s a 9 day trial, a class action would get you no where since they tell you exactly what you are signing up for on the front page of the site.

  13. FreeisaScam says:

    Free Credit Report isn’t free, the 7 day cancellation period isn’t clear and you can’t complain. They say they “hold the highest ethical standards” but make sure they keep your money. Never use Free Credit Report, its not a company, it’s an operation.

  14. Johanna says:

    I just wanted the 1 month membership and decided not to call after the 1 week trial, as of now, it is 1 week, not 9 days like some of you are saying. I just noticed my credit card being billed 99.95$ for the annual membership, so for the ones that said this is not a SCAM, I have a clear example that THIS IS A REAL SCAM! I called them just now, today is day 9 after I signed up, and they said, sorry but we cant give you a refund, I read all out to the rep that the website clearly says that after 1 week you would be charged a monthly membership not a year one! I was so furios I could not believe they really were trying to steal my money! I asked to speak to a supervisor and after going over the situation with him again, he said, fine we will refund you the 99.95$. I would never ever use their services again!

    • George Jetson says:

      I think you need to double check what site you went to. There is no option for annual billing at Freecreditreport.com.

      • tony campbell says:

        My name is tony campbell i use this freecredit and we have only one time.so please tell me what i neeed to

  15. Kim says:

    Freecreditreport.com IS A SCAM!!!!!!

    On April 8, 2010, I applied for Free Credit Report.com report because they advertised one free report a year and I wanted to buy a house. Little did I know that they had tacked on a 19.95 fee each month unbeknowst to me (It is November now and I just recognized the pattern-I had initially thought it was an Experian charge for freezing and unfreezing my credit–which it was not). I thought free creditreport.com was something the government set up so that we could check our credit once a year and make sure it was ok. With all of the other bad people out there trying to steal our credit and use it for thier own purposes, what chance do we have when the credit agencies themselves are stealing from us? I’m a secretary. $20 a month is a LOT of money to my family and I. Yet we are now helpless because you cannot fight the big credit agencies. Or can you? If there is a class action suit or a lawyer that will help, I would like to know, just out of principle alone. This has nothing to do with their awful customer service either, who talk over you when you try and explain how morally wrong this is. And now I am reading about how many other people they have stolen from and the government is LETTING them. What a sad state our nation has become. God Bless America indeed.

  16. WAYNE says:

    Look, everybody is making mostly good points here, and what it all breaks down to is this:

    Welcome to the U.S.A. Free credit reporting is a legal business, there’s plenty of companies offering such services. You can complain as much as you want about how their practices are not how you want things to work, but the fact remains: IT IS WHAT IT IS

    So here’s what you do, you do the same thing they are, and use your INTELLIGENCE and reason to see the big picture, and how to use it to your advantage. You may now realize it, but you can make $20 TODAY just for playing along with these companies.

    Guess what, these freecredit companies market to people they hope won’t cancel, because then they make money. But what you may not know, is that these companies are spending tons of money on advertising to get their free trial in front of as many people as possible. There are advertising agencies out there that operate on a model of referral business. Basically they tell a company like freecreditreport.com that they will get them 5,000 sign ups for them. Now the credit report company knows those sign ups are worth potential future revenue, so they don’t have a problem with paying a good amount to the ad agency to get those leads. Now what the Ad agency does instead of spending all their money advertising the product to get people to sign up, they just let it all get handled by referral, and this is where you can make some real money. The ad agency operates by paying people who refer others to sign up for the offers that they have made arrangements for with companies that need to see a product or offer a free trial. So long story short, can literally turn this whole argument upside down. Its as simple as doing the freecreditreport offer, MAKING A NOTE TO YOURSELF TO CANCEL within 5-6 days of a 7 day trial, and getting PAID. And the awesome thing is, every person that you tell about this that signs up, will earn you more money! How’s that for fancy? And the great thing is, if you are halfway intelligent you will remember to make that ONE LITTLE phone call to cancel the trial so you never have to pay a thing. I don’t know about you, but I can handle one little 5-10 minute phone call in the daytime to make money. No one else is paying for my phone calls, thats for sure lol. Anyways, the responses to this should be fun! I can hear the torch bearers screaming “witch, its still a scam, witch!” Lol people have always been afraid of what they don’t understand. And really, the world of advertising and business in general is all kinds of crazy, but if you just take a little time to understand how it all works, you’ll understand why people in these industries make so much money, and how easy it is to get in on the action. Wake up people! Unemployment should be a thing of the past! Anyone with a computer and Internet access can be making money for themselves. Sorry to ramble and get preachy, but the Internet is an infinitely resourceful tool, and while unemployment is slowly shrinking, it is shrinking in the wrong sectors, and the people who need money most can’t find the jobs they need.

  17. Jimmy D says:

    Well it’s not a complete scam. They do provide a service, although I have no way to tell if it works. I signed up for a buck and got my credit report and score and I cancelled on the 6th day. Then I was charged $19.95. I thought, honest mistake, they hire anyone that is breathing. So I called and they said they would refund my money between 7 and 10 business days, it was returned in 4. Now a month later, I was charged another $19.95, this part is the scam! If I had more money, I probably wouldn’t have caught this. Possibly could be charged this amount every month after I’ve cancelled twice already. I call that a scam.

  18. Hristo says:

    “I did not read the offer very carefully and inadvertently requested all the 3 reports so I got charged $30. A month later I got charged the monthly fee of $19. I called immediately and tried to cancel the membership and get a partial refund (after all I did not use the full second month I paid for) but they politely refused to do so.
    There is nothing free about “FreeCreditReport.com” so for me this is a scam. Very few people would be happy and willing to pay $19 every month so that they can constantly view their credit report.”

  19. rich says:

    For 5 years I have used this service trying to build mY Credit score paying and trusting the service after 5 years I got the nerve to go for a loan to find out that the scores they have been providing were off by 60 points not just a few points but 60 points where they had my credit score far above 700 reality it was far below 700

    when called they claimed “it is a different scoring data they use so if you use this service your tossing money away on information that is not even close to accurate you will run your credit only to be turned down and further drop your score

    this company preys on people with low scores thinking they can do better and make a comeback all the while charging you a monthly fee providing mis information and if you want 3 wrong scores then you can pay an additional $32.95 for NOTHING

    when I called to ask for a simple refund I was sent to the Philippians and told I needed to divulge all of my personal information to someone in a third world country. Nice prey on Americans trying to build our credit make the money off hard working people and farm the jobs out for pennies a day

    when I was transferred to an American extension I was greeted with an attitude and my account was closed.

    if you use this service you would be a fool because you’re paying for nothing …heck send me a check every month and I will tell you your credit score is 860 if that’s what you want to hear

  20. b says:

    CRRRRIMMMINNNALLLSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Freecreditreport.com are liers, thieves, and deserve to die a horrible death.

    STAY AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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