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FreeCreditReport.com from the credit bureau Experian provides access to your credit reports and credit scores as well as 3-bureau credit monitoring services with a 7-day free trial offer, but they are often confused with AnnualCreditReport.com, the official annual credit report website, causing many customers to claim FreeCreditReport.com ripped them off.
But is FreeCreditReport.com really a rip off?
The official answer to that question is yes, at least according to the Experian Class Action Lawsuit Settlement, which made claims that Experian advertising practices did not comply with the Credit Repair Organizations Act.
However, even though Experian agreed to the settlement, FreeCreditReport.com does not claim to be associated with the official credit report website, and they even provide disclaimers on the FreeCreditReport.com website disassociating them from AnnualCreditReport.com, albeit in somewhat fine print that unwary consumers may miss.
In their defense, FreeCreditReport.com provides all of the services they promise, including credit reports, credit scores, and credit monitoring services, and they clearly indicate the terms of their free trial offer for review prior to signing up, but it’s important to know what you’re getting before you join.
What Services Does FreeCreditReport.com Provide?
FreeCreditReport.com provides you with your Experian credit score and free PLUS Score from Experian when you sign up for their free 7-day trial offer for Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring services.
The 7-day free trial offer is absolutely free to join, but you will have to provide your credit card during registration, and you will be automatically charged if you don’t cancel the services before the 7-day trial period expires.
Officially, you have 9 days from enrollment to cancel your free trial membership, because it takes 48 hours after your enrollment for the credit monitoring services to begin, but if you don’t cancel your services before the trial period expires, you will be charged $14.95 for each month thereafter that you continue your membership.
Triple Advantage monitors your credit reports at the 3 major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion on a daily basis and alerts you by email to any key changes in your credit reports and potential signs of credit fraud, plus it offers a $50,000 identity theft insurance guarantee to help protect you against the financial costs of credit fraud.
As long as you’re a member of Triple Advantage, you’ll receive unlimited access to your Experian credit reports and PLUS credit scores, but it’s important to understand that you can get access to your credit reports from all 3 credit bureaus once every 12 months, and the Experian PLUS score is not the same credit score as your FICO credit score, FICO being the official credit score used by creditors to assess your credit worthiness.
FreeCreditReport.com provides you with unlimited access to your Experian credit reports and your Experian PLUS Scores as well as 3-bureau credit monitoring services to help protect your identity, plus you get the free trial period during which you can cancel the services to avoid future charges, although some of the complaints against FreeCreditReport.com charge that they make it difficult to cancel your subscription.
Getting Your Official Credit Reports
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to order your official credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Each of the 3 major credit bureaus is required by law to provide consumers with access to their credit reports once every 12 months, and you may also receive a credit report if you are denied credit or have adverse actions taken against you.
This is the best way to get access to your credit reports, but since you can only get 1 credit report from each credit bureau every 12 months under normal circumstances, this may not be ideal if you need regular access to your updated credit reports.
Read our article about Ordering Your Credit Reports for more information on ordering and monitoring your credit reports.
FreeCreditReport.com Versus AnnualCreditReport.com
If you’re just looking to get your credit reports without any commitment, then AnnualCreditReport.com is definitely the best option for you, and you should order and review your credit reports regardless of whether you intend to sign up for additional credit monitoring services.
However, if you would like unlimited access to your Experian credit reports and PLUS Scores with the added benefit of credit monitoring services to protect you against identity theft, then you may also want to consider the Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring services available when you sign up for FreeCreditReport.com.
Is FreeCreditReport.com a Rip Off?
Unfortunately, FreeCreditReport.com has caused a lot of confusion amongst consumers, and their marketing practices have not helped to clarify the situation, so a lot of their customers feel ripped off.
However, it’s also a customers’ job to review the products they purchase carefully, especially when it comes to supplying credit card information and personal financial data.
So who’s to blame in the end? Both the company and costumers probably.
If a company wants to retain their customers by offering a valuable service, then it’s in their best interest to advertise their services honestly so the consumer fully understands the services they are retaining.
On the other hand, customers must be diligent when signing up for credit services and providing credit card information to companies, and we always need to read the fine print.
FreeCreditReport.com is a domain name so perfect in its singular representation that it makes consumers think they’re signing up for something they’re not, which makes it an incredible advertising achievement for the Experian marketing department, but it fails to meet the needs of the consumer by confusing the reality of the product being purchased.
The irony in all this is that FreeCreditReport.com does provide a credit report (during the free trial period), but they’re just not the official site for receiving your yearly credit reports.
Whether this confusion was caused intentionally is the true judge of whether or not FreeCreditReport.com is a rip off, but Experian did agree to the lawsuit settlement, so whether it was intentional in the first place or not, they’re definitely aware of the situation now.
As with so many things in life, maybe being ripped off is in the eye of the beholder, so we’d love to hear your opinions and experiences in the comments below.
Additional Credit Monitoring Resources
Read our myFICO Credit Services Review for information on ordering your official FICO credit score.
Review more Tips and Information on Credit Monitoring Services.