If you watch any TV, you’ve probably seen these commercials from FreeCreditReport.com. They typically have a band and a guy singing a catchy jingle that tells a story about how he should have checked his free credit report. The commercials aren’t too bad, but there’s one big problem — the reports aren’t free if you aren’t careful. If you catch what the guy at the end of the commercial says really fast or read any fine print you’ll see that when you go to get your credit report you’ll automatically be enrolled in some credit monitoring program.Then it’s up to you to try and remember to cancel before the monthly charges start showing up on your credit or debit card.
Now, I know that those of you who are fairly diligent would obviously remember to cancel these services and get your report for free, but most people don’t. I’ve worked with so many people who signed up for one of these programs after seeing a commercial only to realize a few months down the road that they are mysteriously being charged a monthly fee for some service they don’t even know about. It is a bit misleading if you aren’t paying close attention.
The FTC Fights Back
The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees consumer access to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies â’ Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion â’ every twelve months. With AnnualCreditReport.com, visitors have access to truly free credit reports, with no hidden fees or trial memberships. So, the FTC has decided to fight back. Earlier today the FTC launched their own parody videos that are similar to the ones you regularly see on TV, only this time they are talking about a true free credit report.
Below you’ll find one of the videos. And if you are interested, the FTC has set up their own YouTube channel with another credit report commercial along with a number of additional FTC videos.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.