FTC Cracks Down on "Free Credit Reports" That Just Aren't

I'm tired of that "F-R- Double E Spells FREE" credit report commercial!    Because what they are "hawkin' is NOT free!
Free Credit Reports Are Not FreeThankfully, on March 3, 2010 the Federal Trade Commission file a revision to the Free Annual File Disclosure Rule to address the abuses and deceptive advertising for Free Credit Reports.  This was part of the new Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility Act 2009.

The new disclosure is available now, but must be used after April 2, 2010, per the FTC ruling... however the Radio and Television Ads don't have to go off air until September 1, 2010 (although the advertisements must adhere to the interim disclosure in the Credit Card Accountability Act until then.)

"The pre-existing requirement to make a free annual credit report available to consumers applies to consumer reporting agencies that operate on a nationwide basis.  The new marketing requirements apply to parties that offer free credit reports. For purposes of the requirement, a "Free Credit Report" is a file disclosure prepared by or obtained from, directly or indirectly, from a nationwide consumer reporting agency that is represented, either expressly or impliedly, to be available to the consumer at no cost if the consumer purchases a product or service, or agrees to purchase a product or service subject to cancellation."

I think this is GREAT news for consumers who have been PAYING for what services they don't need!

If you are looking for credit repair from someone who cares about your situation, and will show you how to immediately, and over time imporve your score - please call Steve Thorne, Credit repair specialist 919-649-5058  also check out this site ... it's all about credit repair and dispute information!

Comment balloon 62 commentsEleanor Thorne • March 10 2010 11:47AM


Good news, I too am sick of that commercial.  Thanks for the post.

Posted by Sandra White, Experienced Residential Resale Broker (John L Scott Real Estate) about 8 years ago


It's about frickin' time! I tell people over and over and over and over, nothing is FR double EE Free. Do they listen to me? Pah Leeze. Sometimes I just want to drop a brick on their head. LOL. Yah. I'm unusally violent today :)


Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) about 8 years ago

We will not make any progress in this country until we make everyone accountable for being transparent.

Hidden agendas are the root of every problem (aka "liars")

Posted by Ralph Gorgoglione, Hawaii and California Real Estate (800) 591-6121 (Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes) about 8 years ago

So true, nothing is free just like there is no sale on (mortgage) the fine print as they say

Posted by Anonymous about 8 years ago

Eleanor - It's obvious that the so-called free credit report ads worked; they kept paying big bucks to run them every night.  Consumers who take time to do their homework will discover, the government mandated, and truly "free" source for credit reports.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru ( about 8 years ago

You can get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year. You will not  get your FICO score, but this allows you to monitor your own file, and submit corrections so it is more accurate when you actually need to have it pulled for a loan. All you have to do is go to .   Never mind. You guys are correct. We are paying for this with our taxes because the government helped set this up. We are still paying for it, but at least we don't have to pay for it again.

Posted by Judd Reynolds, Savannah, GA (Exit Team Realty) about 8 years ago

That is good news. I hate to see companies hawk their wares and then do a bait and switch.

Posted by Mark Montross, Listing and Buyer Specialist (Catamount Realty Group) about 8 years ago

John - you are absolutely right - the is the only truly "Free" source for credit reports - those other sites are selling an "insurance" policy IMHO!  I hope they come up with a better Jingle!

Posted by Eleanor Thorne, Equity Resources 919-649-5058 (Equity Resources) about 8 years ago

But I love those commercials. I think the songs are original and catchy. Probably one of the only commercials I can tolerate without fast forwarding through them on the DVR/TIVO.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 8 years ago

That's good news.  Because the ads are misleading.  Not that I like to disagree with my friend Aaron, but you can use copyrighted images and trademarks when you are posting news, postique a critique or review, or making parody.

I've replied this way to several cease and desist letters and I never hear from them again.

Posted by SEO Expert: Michael George, Real Estate and Law Firm SEO about 8 years ago

Seems most profitable companies are making huge sums of money on hidden cost. The telephone and satellite companies get me everytime. Everybody and their brother get a tax of some sort on those bills.

Posted by Daniel J. Hansmeier about 8 years ago

This is great news! Thanks for posting!

Posted by Dawn Maloney, 330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio (RE/MAX Haven - Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist) about 8 years ago

Wouldn't it be nice if people had to give you what they advertised? 

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) about 8 years ago

The word free is rapidly losing its cache. Today we had a "free" seminar by in social networking in Oklahoma City. Nothing free about that or the credit reports. 

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) about 8 years ago

I thought the commercial had a nice ring to it ,,, although I did wonder about the free thing

Posted by Gene perez (Greater Mortgage Solutions & Valley Hills Realty ) about 8 years ago

The commercials were slightly amusing, not anymore

Posted by Jason Burkholder, Sales Manager, Assoc. Broker, Realtor, e-Pro (Weichert, Realtors - Engle and Hambright) about 8 years ago

I always enjoy watching the commercials, but yes, very deceiving unfortunately. 

Posted by Jim Cheney, Rincon Valley Realtor 707.494.1055 (Saint Francis Property Santa Rosa, CA) about 8 years ago

That's ggod to know. Thank you for the update on credit reports.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge about 8 years ago

Oh, thank you!  That green wool tights dork drives me up wall! 

Posted by Laraine Shape, Selling kitchen at a time (Comey & Shepherd Realtors) about 8 years ago

Most consumers don't even realize that the scores they are paying for aren't even based on the models used by the mortgage industry.

Posted by Rodney Mason, FHA 203(k) & HomeStyle Renovation-AL,FL,GA,TN (On Q Financial) about 8 years ago

Eleanor: Thanks for the update. The old adage "if it sounds too good to be true" definitely applies here. Take care.

Posted by Paul McFadden, Pest Control, Seattle, WA. (Paratex) about 8 years ago

I HATE, HATE, HATE that dork, that commercial and that BAIT & SWITCH COMPANY!!!

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) about 8 years ago

I'm missing out on that commerical.  We don't have the guy here . . . but #3's comment is absolutely correct. 

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192, Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results ( | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time) about 8 years ago

I can't tell you how many times I talk to people that send me what they think is a credit report from one of these looney places, that is nothing but 50 pages of confusing garbage. It should NOT be so hard to get your free annual report, and consumers are tricked all the time, including having recurring monthly charges.

Posted by Stephen Kappre, Helping You Home (KW Hometown) about 8 years ago

The world is a better place without those commercials.

Posted by Whitney Peddy (de Luxe Homes & Estates) about 8 years ago

Hi Eleanore,  Hopefully this will bring a little much needed transparency to that market.  Besides, I'm sick of the cheesy commercials - my apologies to the cheese !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) about 8 years ago

Finally! Whilst I did not hate nor love the ads, they do not tell the truth. Seems 2010 is a year of change for the better.

Posted by Corinne Guest, Managing Broker, The Best in Buyer Representation (Barrington Realty Company) about 8 years ago

you can take Ben Bueller, Bueller Stein with them.

Posted by Mike Russell, Overland Park Kansas Real Estate (Mike Russell & Associates) about 8 years ago

It's about time someone makes something transparent. By the time we all get done with fees, fees and more fee there isn't anything left to pay the fees.

Posted by Dave Minder (Wellspring Investments LLC) about 8 years ago

you can take Ben Bueller, Bueller Stein with them.

Posted by Mike Russell, Overland Park Kansas Real Estate (Mike Russell & Associates) about 8 years ago

I don't like the commercial OR the little dork singin that stupid little song.  Whew!  Got THAT off my chest.  As TLW says, NOTHING is FR EE in the world.  People, wake up!  It's all a big scam to extract $$$ from your wallet.  There!  I feel much

Posted by Jean Hanley, Specializing in Folks Who Want To Buy/Sell Homes (Coldwell Banker Kivett Teeters) about 8 years ago

Eleanor - A 'F-U and a CK' THAT spells my retort to all that.  While I love concentrating on credit, as it is so importante to the Real World we live in ... I am amazed by the fact that predators keep on preying.  It's been the soup du jour. 

I've come of the opinion that the better the marketing, the worse the product.  If that is indeed remotely true, I think it is a damn shame that creativity and competence can't share the same field. 

Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) about 8 years ago

Free is just that or get off the air. Seems simple but must be a different kind of free.

Posted by Terry & Bonnie Westbrook, Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re (Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner) about 8 years ago

Free credit reports; free telephone numbers, free ringtones, free addresses...of course, after you click, you need a credit card to pay 19.95.

Posted by Linda Hinson (S & L Properties) about 8 years ago

It's good to hear that these will be more regulated. I think the only thing free about it is the call.. oh I forgot.. it cost time to call them to find out that it's not free at all.

Posted by Roland Woodworth, Q Realty - Power In Real Estate (Q Realty) about 8 years ago

The free credit report jingle is annoying and catchy.  But, people sometimes forget that there is no such thing as free lunch.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 8 years ago

Could there be a better "bait and switch" out there where millions get duped and nobody goes to jail.

It's about time, I imagine some politician is getting a wad of cash from this company and they will resurface with some new angle.

Maybe "we'll eliminate your debt for freeeeeeee"

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) about 8 years ago


So glad that you posted this. I have too many clients tell me that they see sites offering free credit reports, then they get to a screen that tells them to submit credit card information. As you said in your comment, the only truly free one is, and I've been touting them for years.

Posted by William James Walton Sr., Greater Waterbury Real Estate (WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group) about 8 years ago

Now... if they'd just do something about those gold buyers and structured settlement buyers that are continually advertising on TV.

Posted by Gregg Schoh (Montana Land Company, Flathead Valley Montana) about 8 years ago


I got hooked into that "free credit report" bait too. All I had to do was call the 800 # and get my "order" cancelled. The problem is that I was billed for 3 months at $14.95 per month!

I knew something was fishy... I was asked to select a "free" gift for requesting a "free credit report"... The gift was not free either...

Posted by Mott Kornicki, Waterway Realtors, Notary Public (• Waterway Realty, Realtors® • Broker • South East Florida •) about 8 years ago

FREE, FREE, FREE Genuine US Dollar, free to the first 20 people who respond...just send $10.00 (USD ) for shipping and handling  for each genuine US Dollar requested ;>)

Posted by Larry and Marilyn Mennetti (FIVE STAR REAL ESTATE) about 8 years ago

I didn't know the reports were not really free.  Dang! I used to think the commercials were cute, now they'll just irritate me. But only until September!

Posted by Joetta Fort, Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder (The DiGiorgio Group) about 8 years ago

I am sooo sick of the commercial! Glad to hear there is some positive change coming to this part of the market. nothing is "Free".......

Posted by Bill Buettner, Your Real Estate Connection (Keller Williams Greater Columbus) about 8 years ago

Wait, regulating private business? Shouldn't that Pirate cook guy be allowed to commit fraud with a catchy jingle?

Posted by John Neibich (Home Savings of America) about 8 years ago

The last time I tried to get a "Free Credit Report" they put me through way too many hoops.  They were asking me to verify who I was by giving them the account number on some very old accounts that I had closed and long forgotten. 

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 8 years ago

That song is so annoying, but it does stick in your head. Good marketing.

Bad job at explaining it is NOT FREE. It is so misleading.

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) about 8 years ago

It's about time! You're right Erica, annoying but catchy tune that sticks to your brain. Remember the "Winston tastes good, like a .................."? And how many years has it been since that commercial ran? Great marketing!

Posted by Mitch Muller - Charlotte NC Real Estate, Certified Residential Specialist (ProStead Realty Charlotte, NC CRS CDPE about 8 years ago

This is awesome news!  I hate to think about all of the folks that have gone to their site after seeing or hearing thier misleading commercial and getting ripped off.  It will be really nice to not hear this junk any longer.

Posted by Jim & Maria Hart, Charleston, SC Real Estate (Brand Name Real Estate) about 8 years ago

Thans for the post. I was not aware of the web site. I do get some great replies when I ask why I need acredit card number for something that is free. Take Care

Posted by George Burgess (RE/MAX Heritage) about 8 years ago

If you have a credit score below 600 then you might as well kill yourself.  That seems to be the message that the credit bureaus advertise.  I think it's funny that the people responsible for putting inaccurate data into your report to lower your score are also the same ones profiting from selling you the report that shows how wrong they got it.

Next thing you know, Microsoft will be manufacturing anti-virus software to plug the holes in their Windows application.

With the credit bureaus, why fix the problem of inaccuracy if you can profit from it?

There has to be a law somewhere.

Posted by Bill Petrey (AgentHarvest - A Real Estate Agent Finder Service) about 8 years ago

I'm glad for the poor consumer. It's a scam that too many people fall for.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) about 8 years ago

I'm sure my previous comment lowered my FICO score by 50 points.

Posted by Bill Petrey (AgentHarvest - A Real Estate Agent Finder Service) about 8 years ago

Thanks for the heads up, I am so tired of Scams & I am glad they are being regulated!  Thanks for truly trying to help people improve their scores! Congrats on the feature post!

Posted by April Stephens, Broker/Realtor - Johnston & Wake County (RE/MAX One Realty) about 8 years ago


Thanks for the information. I hate it when it just aint what is advertised.


Posted by Cal Yoder, Homes For Sale in Lancaster PA - 717.413.0744 (Keller Williams Elite) about 8 years ago

This is great!  I will, however, miss the catchy jingles in the commercials...some of the more creative ones for sure!

Posted by Don Wixom, "Looking out for your next move..."tm (RE/MAX Advantage Nampa, ID) about 8 years ago

They aren't the only ones. An Ad from a national car insurance company says in their commercials they can lower your insurance if you qualify (ie. home insurance; no accident in past ## days/months; accident forgiveness program; cash reward for being safe driver; etc) however, some of their programs are not available in NC because of state insurance law. Bottom line is the consumer must read the fine print/FAQ's/terms & conditions before clicking that accept button. Also have you noticed lately that after the variouscompanies (financial/insurance/et al) change the terms after they get you "locked" into a contract or long term program citing changes to either state or federal laws/rules.

Hey! just a thought I wonder if can change the "rules" on the spur of the moment, too (like our commission rate). LOL

Posted by George Wilson (Lincolnton, NC) about 8 years ago

HA - love your image! I'm so sick of those commercials I could die!

Posted by Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR (Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA) about 8 years ago

That is good news, and a welcome change. 

Posted by Aaron Silverman, Improving Real Estate Experience through Education (, Bluewater Property Management, LLC and Lowcountry Turnkey Properties, LLC) about 8 years ago

I was very, very happy to read your post.  Thanks for letting us know!

Posted by Mary Pope-Handy, CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley (Sereno Group Real Estate) about 8 years ago

I agree, GOOD RIDDANCE!  Also, I hate when people tell me their credit score based on one of those reports...TOTALLY IRRELEVANT!


Posted by Jenna Dixon, Empowers You With a Better Real Estate Experience (DRA Homes | Cobb County Real Estate ) about 8 years ago

Eleanor, am just getting back in the rain after a week long sabbatical...  great post.  AND congrats on the feature too my friend!!

Posted by Lee & Pamela St. Peter, Making Connections to Success in Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522) almost 8 years ago

It's amazing how they can pay for all of that advertising on national radio and TV when their product is free....Hmmmm.  Good job by the government (wow, I think that's the 1st time I've ever uttered those words).

Posted by Matt Robinson, (Professional Investors Guild) over 7 years ago