FTC takes on not-so-free credit reports


There’s nothing illegal about advertising a service that helps you monitor your credit rating, and charging for such services, but the FTC wants to make it absolutely crystal clear to consumers that there is an absolutely free alternative to the pay services. To that end, it has put together spoofs of some popular ads running over broadcast outlets in both video and audio versions, making the differences clear. FTC encourages their dissemination by whoever wishes to do so, and they’re available here:

The Fair Credit Reporting Act grants consumers access to a free credit report annually, by using either AnnualCreditReport.com, a toll-free telephone number, or a mailing address.

“The new videos highlight the differences between AnnualCreditReport.com and those other sites that claim to provide “free” credit reports. Other sites require users to pay hidden fees or agree to additional services. For example, some sites provide a free credit report if you enroll in a new service. If you don’t cancel the service during a short trial period, you’re likely to see membership fees on your credit card statement.”

RBR/TVBR observation: It’s not hard to figure out which advertising campaign is targeted by the FTC counter-campaign. While it can’t be a good thing to have an advertising concept come under government attack, we suppose it’s better that the FTC is going for what amounts to a like-kind exchange of advertisements, rather than trying to bring the entire targeted campaign down. The upshot would seem to be that FTC sees the campaign as borderline deceptive, in the gray area where it’s not worth using the regulatory tools at its disposal.