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FTC To Roll Out Consumer Protection Measures From Misleading “Free” Credit Report Offers

By Faye Mergel
Published: Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Regular credit report checking is becoming a trend among consumers these days. Quite understandable considering the state of the economy at the moment and the high number of people who are having employment problems.

FTC To Roll Out Consumer Protection Measures From Misleading “Free” Credit Report OffersEver since credit reports became popular among consumers, a lot of offers for “free” credit reports have been going around. This has been especially prevalent online, though it is hardly limited to that medium only. Consumers who go online looking for ways to get free access to their credit reports can easily stumble in one of many questionable web sites that offer so called free credit reports only to charge them with some kind of product such or service such as a credit monitoring service. What at the start was an honest effort from consumers to get a firm handle on their financial life could end up costing them even more.

Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission recently issued a press release announcing their new Free Credit Reports Rules. These rules are designed to help consumers find free credit reports that are actually free and not replete with hidden charges. The rules targets advertisements and requires them to give full disclosure in their advertisements of “free” credit reports. This will hopefully help consumers avoid these misleading services and lead them towards the centralized, legitimate, no-hidden-fee annual free credit report source online.

How the ruling will work is that the FTC will require websites offering free credit reports to post a banner right at the top of their homepage telling consumers that they have the right to free credit reports as mandated by law and where to get these reports. It will also have the address of the FTC website and the address of the website where the FTC issues free credit reports. The banner will also point out clearly that the aforementioned website is the only authorized source of free credit reports by the FTC. The banner must also have functioning click-able links to the pertinent websites. This ruling will become active by April 1, 2010.

The FTC’s recent move will mark the first time that the agency will impose regulations on online advertising – which they have traditionally kept away from. These consumer protection rules of the FTC will not be limited to online advertising only. There will also be new rules for television and radio advertisements that the FTC will be activating come September 1 of 2010.

For consumers who are interested to know more about their rights to free credit reports and to the new FTC rules on free credit report advertisements can visit the FTC government website which details these topics more fully.

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