Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Costly Free Credit Reports

By Heather Wells (Recovery Advocate)

Do an online search for “free credit report” and you’ll end up with a dozen or more websites promising online credit reports (and often credit scores) for FREE. Most of these companies even have the word “free” in their name, but don’t be fooled, there’s nothing FREE about their services. Many will entice people to sign up for a product that comes with strings attached. Most will request a credit card number to enroll and then will charge you if you do not cancel the service within a specific grace period.

A recent post (July 24, 2007) on the blogsite The Red Tape Chronicles written by Bob Sullivan explains that “one site, for instance, requires enrollment in pricey credit monitoring service, which can only be canceled online after precisely 23 days. Another automatically enrolls users in a discount travel service. And some hint that the real free credit report site established by Congress -- -- isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” He goes on to say that many of these sites actually can be traced back to the credit bureaus either directly or by affiliation.

There’s only one legitimate source where you can obtain your FREE credit reports and that’s The law requires that each of the major credit reporting agencies-Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion-give you a copy of your credit report every year at no charge. This law was passed as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and was a real milestone for consumer rights.

Increased consumer awareness and knowledge is a good thing. It’s a positive sign that more folks are interested in what’s being reported in their credit files. Everyone should check their credit reports at least once a year to make sure that all of the information contained in them is accurate and up to date. You should also check your reports for any information that is fraudulent, which could signal that you are the victim of Identity Theft. This includes accounts as well as personal information such as addresses and phone numbers.

So, before you give over your credit card number for something that is supposed to be “free,” don’t do it. Go to

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I prefer which reminds me to get my free report every 4 months with no hidden catches.