If FreeCreditReport.com Doesn't Even Offer A Free Credit Report… Is That Truth In Advertising?
from the just-wondering dept
It’s no secret that FreeCreditReport.com, a site owned by Experian, has always been somewhat misleading in its marketing (okay, very misleading), getting people to get a “free credit report” that is not the government mandated free credit report, and whose entire program was really about upselling people to expensive credit monitoring services. However, we noted back in March that the FTC was finally forcing the site to be more honest in its marketing — including a clear and conspicuous link to the real free credit report offering. But now, reports are coming out that FreeCreditReport.com isn’t offering anything for free any more. The report you used to get for free is now a dollar. And, even though they promise to donate that dollar to charity, it makes you wonder: could the domain name itself be considered false advertising?
Of course, the reason why Experian is charging that dollar seems even more misleading than its old advertising program:
The new F.T.C. rules went into effect on April 2, and they required sites to include a prominent notice across the top of each Web page that mentioned free reports declaring that the only authorized source under federal law for such reports is annualcreditreport.com.
Rather than include such disclosures, Experian added the $1 charge, saying that “due to federally imposed restrictions, it is no longer feasible for us to provide you” with a free credit report. And now that the report costs $1, the new F.T.C. rule would presumably no longer apply.
Yes, you read that right. It’s trying to make the FTC look bad for requiring the company to actually be honest… and, in doing so, is pretending that this means it no longer has to be honest. An Experian spokesperson explained it this way:
The offer for the $1 report is very clear and in compliance with the F.T.C.’s rule,” she said in an e-mail reply to questions. “There is no express or implied offer on our site for a free report.”
Other than the domain, you mean?