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October 13th, 2009

What Do You Think of ‘AnnualCreditReport.com’

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now taking consumer comments regarding how they can improve upon the website ‘AnnualCreditReport.com‘. The recently enacted credit card reform has put new rules into place regarding the marketing of credit reports.

According to Michelle Singletary of the Washington Post, consumers have logged significant complaints against the website which offers free credit reports from the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian:

In an effort to help keep people from ending up on impostor sites or falling for promotions for free credit reports that aren’t really free, the FTC is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to the free-report rule. The credit card legislation passed this spring requires the agency to create amendments to the law by Feb. 22, 2010, to prevent deceptive marketing of these reports.

Over the next two months, you’ll have a chance to weigh in on the FTC’s rulemaking effort. Do take the time to comment, especially if you feel you’ve been deceived. This isn’t a trivial matter. These rules will dictate how you get your credit reports. Most of what the FTC is proposing will make things better, but the agency needs to be tougher.

From The Consumerist:

Here are three rule changes they’re proposing:

1. All credit bureau advertising and upsells would be removed from the process until after you have received your free credit report(s).

2. The “sponsored” links from the credit bureaus would be removed.

3. Other companies [like FreeCreditReport.com] would have to send customers to a landing page that reads, “This is not the free credit report provided for by federal law.”

Why are these free reports so seemingly hard to get from AnnualCreditReport.com? The Consumerist’s Chris Walters writes that in an attempt to purchase their free report, consumers must constantly “deal with upsells and side-sells at every step. You can indeed get your free credit reports from the site, but you’ll also have to keep turning down other offers from the three participating bureaus.”

We Gave It a Go

To encounter these “deceptive marketing” practices on our own, we logged onto AnnualCreditReport.com to get our free report. To begin, stay up at the top of the homepage (don’t click on the Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian links at the bottom) and enter your state, then click “Request Report.” Besides a number of advertisements, we found two significant “upsells” for other reports and services in which you are required to pay for.

As long as you read all of the available options in order to verify that the service you’re selecting is marked as “free,” you should be fine. There was even a “checkout cart” which verified that we owed $0.

Click here to leave your comment electronically (url: http://public.commentworks.com/ftc/FreeCreditReportNPRM/), or if you would rather mail in your comment, send it to “Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex T), 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20580.”

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HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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