The FTC is finally cracking down on the ‘free credit report’ companies who lure you in with the promise of a free credit report, and then upsell and switch to paid memberships. You know the ones with the catchy jingles, right? (I won’t give them the link).
New FTC Regulations on Free Credit Report Advertising
Starting April 2nd, new advertising regulations will go into effect for all companies claiming to offer free credit reports. This, from the FTC:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new regulations regarding the advertisement of “free credit reports,” which will go into effect April 2nd, 2010. The new regulations are designed to protect consumers from being misled by offers for “free” credit reporting, monitoring or other products or services that actually cost money.
Beginning April 2nd, the FTC will require prominent disclosures in all advertisements for “free credit reports” to prevent deceptive marketing. This disclosure will inform consumers that they can receive no-strings-attached, federally mandated free credit reports AnnualCreditReport.com or (877) 322-8228. The disclosure (found below) must also include a clickable button to “Take me to the authorized source,” along with clickable links to AnnualCreditReport.com and FTC.GOV.
Any website that offers free credit reports must include the following disclosure at the top of each page that mentions “free credit reports”.
The FTC has also upped their game by creating some catchy spoof video parodies of one of the websites the new regulations will impact. Wow, really? The government running funny advertisements? That’s a first.
Here’s one of them:
AnnualCreditReport.com and Credit Karma Offer Free Credit Reports
Over two years ago, I highlighted how to get 3 free credit reports annually, through annualcreditreport.com, spread over the course of each year. The advice in that post is the same today. You can get one free from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Additionally, you can continually access (versus once per year) your TransUnion credit report for free through CreditKarma.
I, for one, applaud them for cracking down on shady bait-and-switch advertisers.
Free Credit Report Discussion
- Have you been duped by the catchy jingle or other advertising for free credit reports? What was your experience?
- Do you approve of the FTC stepping in to regulate the advertising?
- Are you using annualcreditreport.com?