Thanks to Congress passing the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, the ads should be a more clear in the future. FreeCreditReport will now have large disclosure ads on their website that say something like “You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com . . . the only authorized source under federal law . . . .”
FreeCreditReport, the site with all the annoying commercials, is run by Experian, one of the credit reporting agencies. In order to get a copy of your credit report, you have to sign up for a trial membership of their credit monitoring service. If you do not cancel your membership within the initial 7 days, you begin to incur $14.95/month service charges for the service.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently began running their own ads which announce that other sites are not free. The FTC even tried to purchase the domain name of “freecreditreport.com” from Experian, but they refused. Experian has paid over $1.25 million dollars to the FTC to settle charges that Experian misled consumers who were seeking AnnualCreditReport.com, but instead were directed to freecreditreport.com.
Perhaps the most important question is how often do you really need to check your credit reports? Depending on your financial situation, once or twice a year should be sufficient. If you use AnnualCreditReport.com, you can get one of your three free annual credit reports every four months, which should be sufficient for nearly everyone. Unless you want constant updates on your credit report, there is no need to pay for credit monitoring.
A Free Credit Score Followed by a Monthly Bill | New York Times