FTC Cracks down on ‘Free’ Credit Report Web Sites

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As of April 1, 2010, any Web site offering a “free” credit report that isn’t really free must prominently disclose on its site that free credit reports are available under Federal law at AnnualCreditReport.com. The new FTC rules apply only to “free” credit reports that are tied to the purchase of a product or service, or a trial of a product or service that a consumer must cancel to avoid charges.

The new rules are part of the CARD Act of 2009 and are aimed at reducing confusion about where you can obtain your free credit report under Federal law. For years, many companies have capitalized on consumer confusion, advertising free credit reports that aren’t really free and deceptively charging consumers for products and services they didn’t necessarily want.

As a response to the new rules, many Web sites are replacing free credit report offers with free credit score offers, as the provisions only apply to credit reports. In many cases, the deceptive marketing practices remain intact however – You can get your free credit score only when you sign up for another product or service, like credit monitoring.

It’s important to exercise caution when navigating the free credit report and score waters online. To help ensure you don’t fall into the free-but-not-really-free trap, apply the credit card test. If a company offers you something for free but requires you to enter your credit card number to get it, it’s probably not free.

While there are a lot of questionable free credit report and score Web sites out there, there are a few that deliver on their promises. Quizzle.com, for example, gives consumers a totally free credit report and free credit score, no catches, no trial subscriptions, no credit card required. In fact, it’s the only site that offers both for free, no strings attached. Because Quizzle is truly free, it isn’t required to display the new FTC disclosure.

The new FTC rules apply to online advertising currently, but will extend to TV and radio in September.

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  • vanessa adams

    I recently read that Experian does not give any information about your credit score with them. How can quizzle give accurate or near accurate scores from Experian?

    • Bob

      Vanessa is correct in her assumtion. Experian will not give you a credit score, unless you pay for it. They will give you a credit report on your accounts, but no numbers unless you pay $39.95 for a one time Report with numbers or you can join one of their three packages, smallest being $16.95 a MONTH…………

      Bob

  • Robert Paul

    I have never heard that before.

    However,

    Experian uses a formula to determine you credit score, based on open accounts, debt to income, closed accounts, payment history, and so on. I am sure that some computer geek has figured out their program, or at least close to it, and duplicated it closely enough to be at least near accurate. If you pay any attention to your credit, the things on your report are more important than the number anyways, keep those in check and your score will go up.

  • Lisa

    I have quizzle and it said my score is 621 but Transunion, Equifax, and Experian say I have no credit. Go figure…

  • Cynthia

    Since joining Quzzile or whatever, I have watched my score go up and down and I have not done anything to change, so how and why does it changes, no one seems to know and I check the other two and all the number are different so much that I wonder if I am the same person. I own a house better yet I have a mortage since 2001 and I have yet to seeit on my report, why is that? Paid off three cars and there are closed WTF!!!

    • Bill Rice

      Cynthia,

      Your credit score can be volatile even though it seems little has changed in your credit accounts (i.e., opening or closing new accounts).

      One very common source of big swings in consumer credit scores is credit utilization. Even subtle changes in the amount of credit you’re using as compared to your total available credit can jump your credit score up or down 10-20 points, depending on the scenario. Here’s a detailed explanation of credit utilization and how it can impact your credit score.

      As for differing credit scores between score provider, this is simply a product of different algorithms working on data provided by your credit report. All credit bureaus and free credit score providers have different credit scoring models. As a result, they will be different. That is why getting and reviewing your credit report is so important, which is why Quizzle gives you a free credit report every 6 months…it’s that important!

      This way you can dig in line by line and make sure everything is accurate and dispute anything that is wrong. This is the quickest way to get your credit report and score as accurate as possible. Sounds like you might have a few inaccuracies in credit report that need clearing up.

      Hope this help get you started.

  • Jim

    About a year ago I applied for a mortgage and found out my credit score had to be 680 or above to qualify for mortgage insurance. I was forced into a higher interest rate to get my loan because one of my scores was 668 with one and the other two were well over the 680 needed. Upon this I started keeping track with TrueCredit.com at a fee every month. I canceled after my credit score on all three were near 700. I stumbled on Credit Karma a couple months later and checked out my score again. It was well below the 680 and this site is powered by TransUnion. I tried Equifax’s trial offer and found my TransUnion and Eqifax to be at the 700 mark but my Expirian score was 618. Puzzled, I tried this site (Expirian powers this site) and they say my score is 692??? What’s the story???