"Free" credit report now costs $1

Consumer Reports News: April 08, 2010 05:31 PM

When is free not free?

When it's on freecreditreport.com and costs a dollar.

In response to new rules from the Federal Trade Commission, freecreditreport.com, which is owned by the credit bureau Experian, has begun charging $1 for credit reports. The service says that the $1-per-report charge will be donated to charity. 

But will the FTC buy it? The new promotion appears to sidestep new FTC rules that require companies that tout "free" reports to indicate that the only government-authorized site for free credit reports is AnnualCreditReport.com. As The New York Times noted today, by charging a dollar but not doing away with the word, "free," Experian may just be seeing what it can get away with in the face of those rules.

At many such sites, "free" has never really been free. At freecreditreport.com, consumers who sign up actually are opting in to free trial periods for paid credit-monitoring services. Freecreditreport.com's credit-monitoring service is $14.95 per month if you don't cancel within 7 days. 

As we've reported, you probably don't need credit monitoring if you order the truly free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Ordering one report from each of the three credit bureaus every 4 months should give you enough information without the need for a credit monitoring service's monthly fees.

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