FreeCreditReport.com has done a great job with their marketing—it’s hard to come up with a company that’s created more memorable ads recently. People are paying attention to their ads, sharing them on social sites and singing along.


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The problem is, the credit reports aren’t free at all. When you get your “free” credit report, you are agreeing to a trial membership in Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring, but if you fail to cancel your membership within the 30-day trial period, you’ll be billed $12.95 per month from that point forward.

The company has been slammed for this practice, and it’s defense has been they have included the following disclaimer at the end of their ads: “Free credit report requires enrollment in Triple Advantage.”

Still, it’s so fast, you can barely understand it, and it’s often cut off in transition to other ads or programming.

Is the disclaimer enough?

Is FreeCreditReport.com responsible or not?

Comment below to weigh in.

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Jeanne says:

    It’s not responsible to advertise something as FREE that clearly is not – also not terribly ethical. Unfortunately, however, it is fairly common and points to a larger problem of people not paying attention to what they are signing up for.

  • Rob Williams says:

    i agree with Jeanne on this. Ultimately it’s cavet emptor, but it doesn’t make it right to bait with free and fine print is pay. My rule of thumb is that to the casual observer, what is communicated? Free is certainly a key point to the advertisements.

  • Deston says:

    They should be indicted for fraud. Right after we waterboard the Lehman executives.

  • Julee Klein says:

    While I totally agree that the disclaimer comes too late and too discreetly at the end of these spots. A good marketing campaign can’t force someone to buy something.

    These successful spots engage the viewer and drive them to the website. Once there, it is the consumers responsibility to weigh the pros and cons of a transaction – free or otherwise – before transacting.

    This isn’t much different than “4 free issues of X magazine” a marketing tactic that has gone on for decades.

  • They have been in trouble before, I think. Either way, great spots, catchy annoying tune. I used them before and canceled after awhile. Waste of money. Where’s the disclosure? Oh yea blink and it is gone.

    Is it legal? Yes

    Is it ethical? Yes

    Is it responsible? Yes. They abide by the law.

    I just make sure my customers know about http://www.annualcreditreport.com This one is really FREE thanks to the US Government. Here is the info:

    AnnualCreditReport.com is a centralized service for consumers to request free annual credit reports. It was created by the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

    AnnualCreditReport.com provides consumers with the secure means to request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).

    You never see this one advertised by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

    Oh wait Experian does, right on their freecreditreport.com site. Text of disclosure and the real free site here:

    IMPORTANT INFORMATION
    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 the 7-day trial period**, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership.
    ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. and Freecreditreport.com are not affiliated with the annual free credit report program. Under a new Federal law, you have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. To request your free annual report under that law, you must go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com.

    @dmgerbino

  • Thanks for mentioning http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ – that’s the real free credit report.

    Keep an eye out for new ads featuring, of all people, Ed McMahon as a gangsta rapper.

    I feel sorry for the guy.

  • […] as we discussed here before, the credit report from FreeCreditReport.com isn’t free and as you might guess, the PrivacyGuard offer has plenty of strings attached, […]

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