Mark Frauenfelder (founder of the awesome Boing Boing) has a piece at PC.com that asks: When is a free credit report not a free credit report? The answer, of course, is: When it comes from FreeCreditReport.com.

FreeCreditReport.com, which has raised the ire of many, does allow people to look at their credit reports free for seven days, but then automatically enrolls users into a $15/month credit monitoring service. This last fact is a problem. Frauenfelder writes:

I clicked on the large bright orange button that said “Get your Free Credit Report & Score!” and was presented with a form. I filled it out. I hesitated for a second when the site asked for my credit card number, which it stated was “required to establish your account,” but the site assured me that my “credit card will not be charged during the free trial period.” Having done this before (or so I thought), I went ahead and entered the information. A shopping cart receipt indicated that the total was $0.00.

I got my credit report, looked it over, and forgot about it. A week later I was looking at my checking account register online and I noticed a $14.95 charge from a company called CIC*Triple Advantage. I didn’t recall buying anything from a company with that name, so I entered “CIC*Triple Advantage” into Google. The search results made my eyes bug out of my head. This was the name of the billing entity for freecreditreport.com. The thousands of search results were full of words like “deceptive practices,” “scam,” “ripoff,” “unauthorized billing!” and “beware!” In fact, all the top results were either from people complaining that they’d been conned into signing up for a $14.95 monthly credit monitoring service without their permission, or they were about how to cancel the service.

Frauenfelder admits that it’s his fault for being duped, but still thinks FreeCreditReport.com is slimy. Read the rest of his story for other problems he has with the service.

There’s never any need to pay to access your credit report. The U.S. government has mandated that consumers be allowed to view their credit reports from each of the three major reporting agencies once every year. If you’d like, you can obtain reports from all three credit reporting agencies at once. Or, you can stagger your requests, possibly requesting one report every four months from a different agency. There are three ways to obtain your credit report:

You will need to provide some basic information, including your social security number, and you may need to provide some personal financial information. If you plan to check your report online, be wary of impostor sites. Be absolutely certain that you have reached AnnualCreditReport.com. (And note that this only applies to your credit report, not your credit score.)

For more information on FreeCreditReport.com check out:

Finally, on a lighter note, a post in the GRS forums pointed to this spoof commercial highlighting the problems with FreeCreditReport.com.

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