The Federal Trade Commission has created its own TV ad warning about sites like FreeCreditReport.com and their practice of pitching their services using fear of what could happen.
The real free credit report site is AnnualCreditReport.com . This is the only Federal Trade Commissions authorized site to obtain an absolutely free credit report; “why is there site absolutely free?” because as a citizen of the United States you are entitled to free report from each of the three credit agencies.
If you ask anyone on the street where to obtain their federally mandated credit report, they will most likely tell you FreeCreditReport.com. Free doesn’t always mean free; to obtain your federal credit report from their site you must sign up for a trial of their credit monitoring service. If you don’t cancel your membership within the 7-day trial period, however, you will be billed $14.95 per month until you cancel your “membership”.
Here is where the scam kicks into full gear. You have to call Experian, the parent company, in order to cancel your membership. Even though you can sign up for the services online, they do not have an online cancellation method. Additionally when you do call, as one of our office staff’s husband found out, you are put into a transfer call nightmare. Each time you are transferred to another representative who tries to resell the monthly service to you. Even when you tell them you are not interested in continuing membership. “But sir, for only 15 dollars a month you can protect your self from identity theft with our credit monitoring service” stated one of the FreeCreditReport.com reps; here is a newsflash, experts say that identity theft doesn’t always show up on a credit report due to delayed reporting. That means their daily monitoring might not even catch the identity theft in time to do you any good.
The cancellation only nightmare only happens if you notice that the 14.95 is actually coming out of your account or being charged to your credit card every month. If you don’t notice, you can go months paying for credit monitoring that you don’t even know you have. When you sign up for their services you have to agree to let them draft money for a chosen payment method(how nice of them to let you choose). All in all not so free and if you do remember to cancel after 7 days you are subject to endless sales pitches.
There are alternatives as stated above. AnnualCreditReport.com is a completly free no hassle site that our office uses on a regular basis. Using this site you can monitor your credit report yourself. When using their site you can actually choose which credit reporting agency you would want to order your report from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. You are entitled to one from each agency every 12 months. So if you were to order from one agency every 4 months, you can in essence monitor your own credit.