Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don't Buy Your Credit Report

Credit report, blah, blah, blah. You might be sick of hearing how important it is to review your credit report. And every personal finance article preaches that you need to review your report often. If you watch any television advertising probably an easy third of the ads are about poor credit, credit scores or credit reports--even if you're watching kids shows.

Most of those ads infuriate me because they hype fear (as most advertising does) and play down the facts. The one that really gets me is the one below.

Yeah, it's cute. It's also a scam. Here is your first clue...they ask for your credit card information. Duh, they are going to charge you for something you can get for free. will give your credit score for free, but it will also require you to enroll in their Triple Advantage credit monitoring. The fine print:
When you order your free report here, you will begin your free trial membership in Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring. If you don’t cancel your membership within 9 days of enrollment, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership. If you are not satisfied, you can cancel at any time to discontinue the membership and stop the monthly billing; however, you will not be eligible for a pro-rated refund of your current month’s paid membership fee.

The most misleading aspect of is their name. It's confusingly similar to the legitimate site In fact FreeCreditReports has a better name than the actual site for ordering your free report. If my memory is correct FreeCreditReport scored that URL long before the official site. is an easy and secure site that lets you receive credit reports from each of the three reporting agencies from one location. You can order all three at once or just one at a time. You are entitled by law to view your each of your 3 reports once every 12 months. Some people like to get all three at the same time to compare. Others like to space them out throughout the year so they can monitor changes.

So here are some Do's and Don'ts
  • Do take the message from the cute ads seriously
  • Don't follow their links
  • Do get your report for free from
  • Don't ever give credit card information to get your credit report.
  • Do make sure you read and understand the fine print of anything you sign up for.
  • Don't tune out credit report information, it's important and even though you think you everything those things can change.

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