I know you've seen the advertisements for "FreeCreditReport.com," the catchy commercials prompting people to avoid being victims of identity theft by monitoring their credit reports. The catch - that site wasn't free, the credit report came free in exchange for a monthly credit-monitoring cost from Experian. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, all the consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) are required to provide you a free credit report upon request every year. As the FTC notes:
The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services. Don’t be fooled by TV ads, email offers, or online search results. Go to the authorized source when you request your free report.
Well, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided to start up their own service, a free one, no catches. Their website? AnnualCreditReport.com. Yeah, if that's not enough, their ads also parody the Experian ones.
Here's the same FreeCreditReport.com ad overlaid with warnings to be aware of deals like these:
Checking your credit once per year gives you an opportunity to make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. Not only that, it helps you spot identity theft. Because your credit is used to evaluate insurance, employment and more, it's an important step to take in safeguarding your identity.