Monday, November 9, 2009

Down with freecreditreport.com

I don’t answer e-mails from Nigerian princes or click on flashing pop-ups telling me I’ve won a bunch of cash, so I CANNOT BELIEVE I fell for freecreditreport.com’s scam. I could have been interviewed for this New York Times article.

What’s in store for me down the line? Will I be one of those little old ladies on Dateline crying about how some alien on the Interwebs stole all my money?? Maybe not… there were a few extenuating factors at work:

  • Evil genius marketing: I think I just couldn’t get past the name of the site. After all, it has the word FREE in it. While most e-commerce sites are named after their products, freecreditreport.com was named after its gimmick, which is a “free” report looped in with a nine-day trial of the actual product, a rather pricey - and useless - credit monitoring service.
  • Irrational rage: The reason I was checking my credit in the first place was because I had convinced myself that evil, evil stalker cable company RCN, which had unleashed bill collectors on me for absolutely no reason other than their own stupidity and evilness, was out to ruin my credit and my life. Little did I know that my preoccupation with mitigating the evil of one company would leave me vulnerable to yet another!
  • Trial trickery: Although I have no memory of entering my credit card information or ignoring the Welcome e-mail (most likely due to rage-induced temporary insanity discussed above), I must have skimmed over some text describing the trial membership I unwittingly signed up for…. So I should have known better, BUT isn’t a free trial usually followed by the OPTION to extend? Since when does NO ACTION mean, “Yes, please charge my credit card for something I don’t need. Monthly.” Any halfway decent company would at least send you an e-mail alerting you that your trial period is over and that your credit card is going to be charged. Shady.
Of course that’s their intention — to confuse and take advantage of consumers.

From NY Times: “Evan Hendricks, who used to serve on the consumer advisory panel for Experian [credit bureau that owns the site] and is now the editor and publisher of Privacy Times, said the company knew the Web site’s name would sow confusion. ‘We had these roaring debates, saying you can’t call it freecreditreport.com because it’s not free,’ said Mr. Hendricks, who has also been an expert witness on behalf of consumers suing to correct errors in their reports and has testified against Experian. ‘We had put them on notice,’ he said. ‘But the money spoke louder.’”

FYI: To actually get a FREE credit report with no strings attached, go to www.annualcreditreport.com. Federal law guarantees access to a free report from each of the three reporting agencies every 12 months. Why are consumers STILL at the mercy of these deeply flawed and rather evil credit reports? That's a whole separate rant.

6 comments:

Stephanie Faris said...

I was going to tell you about the real free report but it looks like you figured that out. Actually I almost feel for the freecreditreport scam too. I can't get my free report online because it wants me to know the name of the corporation that owns my mortgage and none of the ones THEY think it is are the ones I know it as...so I have to do it by regular mail.

Together We Save said...

I hate those companies... making you think something is not only free but safe. I have never tried one...to big of a chicken.

Zip said...

Wow. I always wondered how they could have all that money for those idiotic commercials by just offering free credit reports. Did you actually have to pay for a month?

Amy said...

Two months. Bastards.

Christina Lee said...

Yikes-- well you are one of many who did!

Annual credit report said...

To those credit One thing is certain, you can either play by the rules, or you lose the game.
http://www.freeannualcreditreportinstant.co.uk

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