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College Students Warned Against Commercial Credit Report Sites

By Faye Mergel
Published: Friday, October 30th, 2009

College is a time for many students to transform themselves into financially responsible adults. Since most of them start with blank debt slates, the Officer of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation wants to help these students stay out of bad debt. The office director advises college students to be wise on their loan applications and to avoid paying late. Additionally, students are advised to check their credit report regularly to make sure that their accounts are updated and free from errors. Experts say college students are at a great risk for identity theft, which is why they are advised to keep check their accounts at least once a year. However, experts warn them against commercial reporting sites that claim to be free but are actually not.

College Students Warned Against Commercial Credit Report SitesStudent loans and credit cards are the major items on a college student’s consumer report. Massachusetts’ Director of Communications for the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation talked to college students earlier this week to tell them about the importance of having a good credit. The program was aimed at educating young consumers on how they can make wise credit-related decisions especially that they are still starting off with their financial lives. Students were also advised on how to be careful with offers that are too good to be true, among them, free credit report check from commercial websites.

Specialists tell young consumers and their parents that there are many websites which offer to monitor a person’s credit for free. However, these sites are not as free as they claim to be. Generally, websites would initially claim that they will keep track of consumer accounts for no charge at all after they fill out registration forms. In most cases, consumers are not aware of the registration fine prints which say that they will be charged several dollars each month if they do not cancel their subscription within seven days.  Many consumer credit cards are charged with more or less $15 each month for subscribing to such services. For college students and consumers in general, paying $15 for services they do not really need is a huge waste of money, experts add.

With 84 percent of college students in Massachusetts holding at least one credit card and with 50 percent carrying at least four card accounts, it is only natural for “free” credit reporting companies to target campuses in the state. Specialists note that such companies even launch commercial advertisements to promote their websites.

Experts tell students that they can obtain their credit report for free once a year, a right which is guaranteed to them by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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