Just when you thought credit agencies couldn't get any shadier or greedier, along comes the story of how they are duping customers into subscriptions that masquerade as free credit reports. A recent study found that two of the big three agencies, Experian and Trans Union, are connected to numerous websites that tout free reports (you only get one, if any) and ultimately sign you up for a credit report monitoring service (not free). The sites, with misleading names like My-Free-Credit-Report.com and FreeCreditReport.com, coincidentally turn up at the top of Google searches for free reports; the only (and federally mandated) site that actually offers a free annual report, AnnualCreditReport.com, barely registers a blip. We've come to expect as much from credit agencies, which have never made it easy for people to view their data and have gotten rich from selling them the privilege of monitoring the agency's success at securing that data. But now these companies have hit a new low: resorting to even more dubious marketing practices that shamelessly exploit (a) laws requiring credit reports to be made available for free, and (b) the public's heightened fears of identity theft.
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