Here’s a recent reader question – maybe you’ve wondered about it as well:
Back in January, I applied for a credit report from FreeCredit Report.com, which I saw advertised on national TV. I still haven’t received anything. This is the same thing they did to me six years ago. But now I’m in the process of getting a long-term loan, and there are issues on my credit report that needs removing. What can you tell me that would rid these money-sucking companies and allow me to get my credit report and have these penalties removed from my credit so my loan rates will drop? – Bryon
First, Byron, realize that not all websites are created equal. Or fair. FreeCreditReport.com is not really free. It’s one of a handful of sites that try to extract money from you by dangling a free credit report, then attempting to sign you up for things like “credit monitoring services” that you may not need or want. Sometimes, as happened with you, these sites don’t even send you the credit reports. Worse, some people actually get charged for the “free” report!
Here’s how the Better Business Bureau describes another of these types of sites, consumerinfo.com…
Complainants generally allege that they ordered a “free” credit report but were later charged by the company for credit monitoring services. Others complain that they were charged immediately for the free credit report. In some cases, customers allege that they canceled their membership but continue to be billed or that they failed to receive their credit report on the company’s website. … When customers were charged immediately, the company contends that the customer did not participate in the free trial offer but rather ordered a different product, which includes several credit bureau reports and credit score.
For these complex problems, there’s one simple solution: don’t ever attempt to get a free credit report from any site other than AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s the only government-approved website for getting your free credit report, and probably the only one that doesn’t attempt to sell you something.
The Federal Trade Commission warns, “Many other websites claim to offer ‘free credit reports,’ ‘free credit scores,’ or ‘free credit monitoring.’ But, be careful. These sites are not part of the official annual free credit report program. And in some cases, the ‘free’ product comes with strings attached.”
Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.