FTC reminds consumers of its free credit reports

WASHINGTON: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released two parody videos to inform consumers that its AnnualCreditReport.com is the only place to get a free annual credit report.

WASHINGTON: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released two parody videos to inform consumers that its AnnualCreditReport.com is the only place to get a free annual credit report.

The videos spoof popular ads from FreeCreditReport.com, which is part of Experian subsidiary ConsumerInfo.com. Consumers that go to FreeCreditReport.com must sign up for a service to get their credit report, and there is a monthly cost after a free-trial period.

“We wanted to tap into the awareness of [the FreeCreditReport.com ads] to let people know that there's only one site where you can get free credit reports with no strings attached,” said Nat Wood, assistant director of the division of consumer and business education at the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

In August 2005, ConsumerInfo.com settled FTC charges that it “deceptively marketed ‘free credit reports'” by not adequately explaining that consumers would eventually be charged a fee for service. While acting director for the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Eileen Harrington, would not specifically name ConsumerInfo.com during a teleconference for the launch of the new videos, she did say that consumers need to “understand that they're signing up for a service and... going to get billed for it.” She added that “more than ever” consumers need to know they can get a truly free copy of their credit report with the FTC.

She said the FTC hopes these videos go viral due to a lack of ad budget. The bureau is working with Fleishman-Hillard, its PR partner of about four years, on media and blogger outreach and outreach to consumer groups. It also has a YouTube channel with the videos.

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