A few years back it was discovered that most of those sites advertising "free credit reports" were something of a scam. While many of them were run by the various credit agencies, they weren't the official AnnualCreditReport.com site, but rather tricks to get people to sign up for fee-based credit monitoring reports. Eventually, the FTC cracked down, fining Experian $950,000 for misleading the public. Apparently, though, the business generated by such practices was worth a lot more than that. It appears that Experian simply took the fine to be a cost of doing business for their Consumerinfo.com site, and have continued misleading people into signing up for a "free" credit report, and then quietly enrolling them in an $80 credit-monitoring program. So, now the FTC is back fining the company a second time, this time for $300,000. Given that the larger fine didn't get the company to mend its ways, somehow it makes you wonder if this new fine will be any more effective. It certainly does seem to be a conflict of interest to let these credit reporting companies charge you to alert you to whenever they might make a mistake. Of course, the credit agencies don't see it that way. Soon after this practice was originally outed, Experian competitor Equifax's CEO stated that it was "un-American" to let people view the information that these companies had about them for free.
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