Federal gov't launches ad campaign to warn of 'free' credit reports

By Aaron Gilchrist - bio | email

Posted by Colby Rogers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - By now, everyone has seen the commercials featuring a music group singing about the benefits of FreeCreditReport.com.

Now, the federal government has launched a counter-campaign warning consumers to read the fine print.

The Richmond-produced ad campaign for FreeCreditReport.com is catchy, toe-tapping and actually offers a service that any credit-conscious consumer would go for.

But, despite the name of the website advertised, the Federal Trade Commission says it not the place to go for your free credit report.

"The commercial may be catchy and it may have some neat songs or things attached to it, but the main thing is - it's a business," said Bruce McClary of Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions. "There's some fine print, read it."

McClary, a certified credit counselor, says the FTC has launched a new copycat ad campaign promoting the government-endorsed AnnualCreditReport.com, trying to manage any possible confusion.

"In the AnnualCreditReport.com website, there is no fee-based service tied at all, whatsoever, to the product that they're offering, which is your free credit report," McClary said.

By using the government-endorsed AnnualCreditReport.com, consumers can get access to credit reports from the three major reporting agencies - Equifax, Transunion and Experian - at no cost, once a year.

"You can stagger it out so that you get say, your Transunion report one month and you wait three months and get your Equifax," McClary said. "You can get all three together and then wait 12 months to get all three again."

McClary says FreeCreditReport.com, by contrast, is a business selling a product, and only offers a credit report if users enroll in a paid program.

However you choose to get it, McClary says it's important get copies of your credit report to catch any inaccurate information that could hurt your credit score and to catch any possible credit fraud.

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