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Ads: Credit report monitoring scam

A reader e-mailed to say he had come across an ad on Funny for one of those outfits that proposes to provide free credit reports from all three reporting agencies, but which hooks you in to a subscription whereby you end up paying a monthly fee for “credit rating monitoring.” Please be careful. Do not order “free” credit reports from any such lash-up: it’s a scam. While you do get the free credit reports—which you can get for yourself online very easily—paying someone to monitor your credit reports is unnecessary.

Here’s why: By law, each of the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Transunion, is required to give you a free credit report once a year. Because there are three agencies, you can monitor your own status, for free, simply by asking for a report from one of them every four months. If you then  review your bills and checking account statements each month, you will protect yourself just fine against identity theft. For free.

To get free credit reports without anyone trying to lure you into an expensive scam, go to This site was commissioned by the three credit reporting companies to provide the three annual credit reports mandated by law. You can request your report online, by phone, or by snail-mail.

You don’t have to ask for all three at once. So, if you order one in January, one in April, and one in August, you can cause the system to monitor your credit rating, allowing you to check for anything strange on a regular basis. It’s easy to put reminders in Outlook, iCal, or even Quicken to tell yourself when to call up a new report and which agency to ask.

Apparently different ads come up on different computers. I haven’t seen any such advertisement on my Mac; otherwise I’d get AdSense to block it.

4 thoughts on “Ads: Credit report monitoring scam”

  1. Adsense is also doing the targeted advertising now, so the ads displayed may related to previous searches the visitor had done on their own computer. I can’t recall what it was I was searching for, but I started noticing a lot more ads related to it on various sites I visited about a month ago. That makes it very difficult for you to control what is being shown on your site, normally adsense is targeted to the articles you write.

  2. Well, I’ve never searched for anything like this and I have all the “free credit report” ads displayed here. i’ve noticed that many of the most successful personal finance blogs have ads that contradict the content of the blogs.

    Any further thoughts on this?

  3. @ Frugalscholar: Yup. I know that at one point along the line Trent removed Google Adsense from The Simple Dollar because it irked him to see ads that directly contradicted his message.

    My own sense is that FaM readers are bright enough to recognize the difference between advertising and content. And I think most are sophisticated enough about the way the Google works to understand that though the ads are “targeted,” they pop up in a random sort of way over which a site’s proprietor has little control. So, I don’t feel very exercised about it.’s site name, however–which is owned by Experian, BTW–so closely apes that I think it’s worth noting the difference between the two. In passing.

  4. one of those ads is right on this page! They say if you get a free credit report they’ll keep on charging your credit card in the future. How can they get away with that?

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