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The FTC Fights Sites Offering “Free Credit Reports” With Musical Commercials

This article was written by in Credit. 18 comments.


The Federal Trade Commission wants consumers to know that the only website offering the three federally mandated free credit reports each year — one from each credit reporting bureau — is AnnualCreditReport.com. While they don’t name the “other” website specifically, this campaign is a direct response to freecreditreport.com, a service from the reporting bureau Experian that requires users to sign up for a credit monitoring service in order to receive a “free” credit report.

Experian reportedly makes it difficult for customers to cancel this monitoring service during its trial period. The impostor website previously used more misleading language to convince visitors that they were visiting the federally-mandated website for receiving free credit reports, but in the last few years, they’ve improved some of their marketing copy. But they haven’t improved service for customers who wish only to receive a free credit report. They have released a series of catchy commercials, and the FTC is now fighting back with their own public service announcements.

Here is one of the PSAs:

Published or updated March 9, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Roger

Not too bad, although not quite as good as the FreeCreditReport guys. The snarky jabs at the ‘other sites’ is a nice touch, though. Good to see so many muscians getting work out of credit report sites, at least.

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avatar Rassah

I’m guessing the “federally mandated free credit cards” is supposed to be “free credit REPORTS”
As far as PSAs go, this one has P written all over it :/

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,480 (Platinum)

Quite right!

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avatar PT Money

Definitely not as cool as the other guys. But it’s great to see them fight back like this. Or is it? Isn’t this like the USPS advertising against FedEx? (i.e. tax dollars spent on govt vs private industry advertising)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,480 (Platinum)

The analogy would only stick if FedEx were misleading people, claiming to ship products for free (if you sign up for a tough-to-cancel service with a free trial). In my opinion, a small campaign is money well spent if it’s effective in spreading the word.

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avatar Brandon Barkley

Cool commercial, but I have done the free credit report free trial twice and I found both times it was easy to cancel. They even have a number now that does not require you to talk to a human to cancel.

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avatar Brandon Barkley

That being said, they really ought to have it be cancellable on the website itself.

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avatar Kyle

I certify this PSA Grade-A hilarious.

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avatar The David

Am I the only one who thinks this is a bad idea?

Now there are two credit report ads on TV, and consumers have to figure out which one is the real one.

Before, it could be assumed that the songs you saw on TV were the fake ones. Now, it’s not as clear.

By trying to play by their game, they’ve legitamized the Free Credit Report company.

If you’re an average consumer watching either of these, how would you know which is real? They both look exactly alike.

Good intention, but bad delivery.

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