028. are those “free” credit reports really free?

I discuss an article about the skinny on those “free” credit report companies. i also give you the website to order your truly free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Hello and welcome everybody to another episode of the Reside Daily Bite; I’m your host, David Doucette. Today, I want to talk to you about pre-credit reports and this is something that I think is important for all of us, as consumers. And there’s an article that came out of the San Francisco Gate a couple of weeks ago titled “Free credit reports not so free anymore“. What this is they’re cracking down the kind of misleading advertising that somebody’s credit reporting services are promoting.

The article starts, “Companies that offered free credit reports appear to be skirting a new federal disclosure requirement designed to crack down on misleading advertising. Under the requirement, companies that advertise free credit reports in connection with the sale of credit monitoring or other products must prominently disclose that consumers can get a truly free credit report from the government-authorized Web site annualcreditreport.com.” So what this means is these companies who are advertising these free credit reports to get you there to purchase the credit score of some other product. If they’re advertising free credit reports, then on their website, they have to put in this disclosure that says you can get a truly free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. They don’t want to have that disclosure so they’re skirting ways to do that. And that’s what I’m going to talk about next.

“Rather than make the new disclosure (which would be the right thing to do), many companies changed their marketing. Instead of offering “free credit reports”, some are charging a small fee or promoting free credit scores, which are not covered by the new rule.” So now they’re going to scores not the reports. Freecreditreport.com, known for its pirates, minstrels and catchy jingles, is doing both. Its Web site now says, “Check your report for $1 and get your score free! Plus, we’ll donate your dollar to charity.” What they are trying to really sell there is the credit monitor and services. Now, “Freecreditreport.com is owned by Experian,  one of three credit reporting agencies (the 3 credit reporting agencies that we have is Experian, Transition and Equifax and it’s important to know of these 3 companies) required by law to offer consumers a free credit report, with no strings attached, once a year at Annualcreditreport.com.” Now, I want you write this website down, AnnualCreditreport.com -that’s where you can go and once a year, you can get a truly free credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus. So, if you haven’t done that in a while, definitely click on that link, go there and fill that out. You want to know what’s on your credit report.

It says, The company “is cleverly taking advantage of gaping loopholes in the law,” says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at Credit.com. The company’s Web ad implies that the government put a stop to its free reports. It says, “Due to federally imposed restrictions it is no longer feasible for us to provide you with a free Experian Credit Report.” Which is completely false. A spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, says, “We know of no federal restriction that would prevent a company from offering free credit reports; the rule simply requires those companies that do offer free reports to include prominent disclosures.”

So they talked about some more other advertising issues and from web advertising to TV; “Starting in February, companies subject to the law had to state, in all advertising, that “Free credit reports are available under federal law at: Annualcreditreport .com.” Again, that website. “Web advertising must say: “THIS NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY LAW. Read more at FTC.GOV. You have the right to a free credit report from Annualcreditreport.com. Starting Sept. 1, TV and radio ads must say, “This is not the free credit report provided for by federal law” in the audio and visual portion.” So, this credit reporting or this free credit report companies are trying to essentially skirt the law so they can somehow get you to their site to have you purchase their credit monitoring services or other products that they’re selling. The take away in all of these that I wanted to share with you is you are entitled to your free credit report once a year and you can again get that at AnnualCreditReport.com and you will get a credit report from each of the 3 bureaus. You can either do that online or you can download a form. Actually, my favorite way is to download the mail and form from that website, fill it in, send it in and the 3 companies will give you the credit report through mail.

So, that is it on credit reports and we’re going to be talking a lot more about credit and credit scores and credit reports in the future daily bite episodes and probably have a few podcasts centered around that because it’s a huge topic -the credit report, it’s very important nowadays and we’ll continue to be in it; if you listen to Suze Orman or any of the financial gurus, the credit report is huge. If you haven’t polled yours in a while, definitely poll it; let’s find out what’s on there.

If you have any questions or comments, 1-800-476-5579 or feedback@residerealestate.com

My name is David Doucette and thank you for joining me today for the Reside Daily Bite.

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