Some much-needed relief is in store for consumers who have fallen for “free” credit score come-ons.
On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it, along with the Ohio and Illinois Attorneys General, would require three companies to give $22 million back to consumers for allegedly misleading them into signing up for credit monitoring services without their knowledge.
In this case, the companies drew in consumers browsing the Internet with ads exclaiming, “View your latest Credit Scores from All 3 Bureaus in 60 seconds for $0!” After typing in their credit or debit card numbers, consumers later discovered recurring entries for $29.95 on their statements for the services, known as ScoreSense or MyCreditHealth.
The FTC and the attorneys general found that these companies didn’t adequately disclose the charges consumers would incur if they tried to access their credit score. The FTC further noted that some consumers had to call repeatedly to cancel the credit-monitoring service, and the companies didn’t always refund consumers for the charges.
Consumers have provided similar stories to us, explaining that they signed up for a “free” or $1 score, and were later charged recurring fees. Cynthia, of Columbus, Ohio, says:
“I got an offered a credit score for $1.00, and missed the fine print that it would cost me $30.00 if I did not cancel within 7 days. I was charged the fee and when I requested a refund the same day they charged my account they denied my request. I will know better the next time I see a scam like that again. I think it is a rip-off to bait and switch people like that. I did not use any of there services, so why not refund me my money? Clearly they are taking advantage of the consumer.”
We’re pleased that consumers will finally get some relief. But we think it should be easier for consumers to get their free, reliable credit score. The Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting (SECURE) Act, introduced in the Senate in April, would give consumers a free, accurate credit score together with their free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. Please call your Senators and urge them to pass this bill!
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