Here’s a problem some consumers are having.
They get on their computers to obtain the free credit reports they’re entitled to under federal law.
They want to go to annualcreditreport.com, which is the site the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — established to provide those.
If they type “annualcreditreport.com” into the address bar of their browser, they go right to the site. (The image above is what you’ll find on the real deal.)
But some consumers are going to Google and searching for that URL.
When they do that, first links that appear on the page are paid advertisements that are out to trick unsuspecting consumers with names like “Annual Credit Report” or “Annual Credit Report.com.”
They’re commercial Web sites that pay Google to have their links listed first and the questionable info they provide is definitely not free.
One link, for example, took us to a site called “CreditReportsandScores.com” which urged us to “Start Here, It’s Free.”
What we quickly discovered is that the site was really offering to provide a credit score – it doesn’t say what formula will be used to generate that score – and not the credit reports consumers set out to get.
At least not right away.
When a user orders a “free credit score” they’re automatically signed up for a credit monitoring membership that costs $14.95 a month plus tax.
After they pay for that that membership, they can then “purchase a triple bureau credit report.”
Of course users are offered the option to obtain their “free credit score” and avoid all costs by canceling their membership within seven days.
But good luck with that.
This kind of deceptive marketing around annaulcreditreport.com has been going on for years now and we have to wonder if the Federal Trade Commission is ever going to get serious about putting an end to it.
We fear it’s not.