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FreeCreditReport.com Sidesteps FTC Rule

On April 2, new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules went into effect that require for-profit credit reporting sites to direct consumers seeking a free credit report to a government site that offers one complimentary credit report per year.

In an effort to circumvent the FTC crackdown, FreeCreditReport.com is now charging $1 for a seven-day trial membership in its credit reporting service. Previously, consumers who signed up for the service got a free one-week trial that automatically transitioned into a monitoring service subscription that costs $14.95 a month. The FTC didn't think Experian, which owns the site, disclosed the automatic membership clearly enough in its commercials.

Instead of adding the FTC-required notice to its Web site, Experian added a box explaining the $1 charge on its Web site:

Due to federally imposed restrictions, it is no longer feasible for us to provide you with a free Experian Credit Report. So for now we'll be charging you $1 for your report.

Experian will donate the money collected through the token charge to charity.

Consumers who enroll in the trial membership will still be automatically enrolled in the $14.95-a-month program.

The New York Times Wednesday questioned whether Experian has solved its problem or whether it's setting itself up for more fire from the FTC.

Associate Editor

Lauren Williamson

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