Be Wary Of Free Credit Report Sites

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There are a number of Web sites that heavily advertise "free" credit reports and charge consumers for services they probably do not need, according to a Consumer Reports WebWatch study.

Consumer Reports WebWatch examined 58 offers made on 24 sites, almost all advertised "free" credit reports and scores. Most of the sites make the offer along with "credit monitoring" services which can cost up $160 per year and credit scores that can cost as much as $75.

The Fair And Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 allows consumers to receive a free copy of their credit report once a year from the three credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The report points out that the growing number of Web sites offering "free" credit reports may confuse consumers. Some sites are even critical of the legitimate annualcreditreport.com, the site set up to deliver those reports.

 Of the 24 sites analyzed, nine were owned or connected to TransUnion and eight others connected to Experian. "It seems disingenuous for the same credit reporting companies who were required by the federal government to provide free credit reports to be so heavily engaged in selling these reports to consumers bundled with other credit-related services," says Robert Mayer, professor of consumer studies at the University of Utah, author of the report.

Consumer Reports Webwatch recommends consumers not familiar with credit reports to consider each separately and incrementally. "Consumers are better off obtaining the three free reports per year they are entitled to by law from annualcreditreport.com, and purchasing credit scores from that site for as little as $8 each, than spending $160
per year on credit monitoring or $75 on scores," says Beau Brendler, director of Consumer Reports WebWatch.


Be Wary Of Free Credit Report Sites
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  • Leo


    The credit repositories make BIG BUCKS selling your info to potential lenders. The more reliable/accurate their data, the more valuable their services are, the more they can charge.

    “Free Credit Reports” (even the “honest” ones) do little more than provide the repositories with a chance to collect reliable/updated data ON YOU!

    (why else do you think that a group as powerful as lenders/bankers/credit agencies would allow congress to pass the FACTA Amendment to the FCRA?!?!?)

    Even if the “honest” free credit report provided a credit score, EACH TYPE OF LENDER USES A DIFFERENT SCORE MODEL!!! So the score the credit card companies pull is different from a mortgage lender…

    my 2 cents worth…

  • Anna

    Yikes! The government should act fast & stop this fraud soon.


  • Sam in Philadelphia

    In my view the 2nd most important aspect of a credit report is the score. That’s the most often quoted value and “supposedly” the key indicator of credit worthiness. The real scam is that the “score” is never free. The “come-on” is the implication that you’ll receive full credit reporting. Where the scam comes in is that the agencies’ goal is to give you some information and then require a payment to get your score, as well as sell you credit-monitoring “services”. The way I see the world is that this is NOT a “free credit report”. How many people get duped into believing that they’re really going to get this for nothing.

    That begs the issue of the true value of a credit report’s score. My credit worthiness according to TransUnion is 759 which means that 57% of the population is more credit worthy. I should be in the top 1% based on my true credit worthiness. I have zero debt, own my home, own my car and never incur credit card fees as I pay in full monthly. Who could be more credit worthy?

    These agencies only serve those who want to make a bundle from less credit-worthy borrowers. They are not there to serve the interests of those who are careful with their borrowing and honest with their creditors.

    My credit report is severely penalized because I own my home. They want to see a broad range of borrowing and I don’t have real estate borrowing. They want to see lots of credit cards with high credit availability and low balances. I have a single credit card with a Credit Union … there’s another major black mark on my record! Who would want to market to a credit card to me … I’m not a patsy and that’s who they’re looking for.

    I could go on but won’t. Will close by saying that a truly credit-worthy person will not enjoy seeing what the reporting agencies think of them. It’s quite depressing.

    Sam, in Philadelphia PA

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