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Majority of Consumers Support New Rules for “Free” Credit Report Sites

By Faye Mergel
Published: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Though figures are not released yet, the Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday that an overwhelming majority of consumers who submitted their comments support proposed changes regarding “free” credit report websites. The FTC proposed new regulations after many consumers across the country complained about being misled by some websites into monitoring services they did not really want. Regulations are scheduled to be implemented as part of the CARD of 2009, a bill aimed at providing more protection to consumers against predatory lending practices.

Majority of Consumers Support New Rules for “Free” Credit Report SitesConsumers do know how important it is to check their credit report regularly that is why they want to get the annual free copy guaranteed by federal law. However, a lot of Americans do not know where to get their credit report for free. Some legislators say many websites are taking advantage of this ignorance by posing as a free credit report source created by the FTC along with major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

According to the FTC, many confusing advertisements about where consumers can get their credit report for free are popping up as of late. For this reason, legislators are proposing new rules that will require free credit report ads on TV, radio, and online to include the following or a similar disclaimer: “This is not the free credit report provided for by federal law.”

Additionally, the FTC proposes that companies remove their ads from the official website for free credit reports to keep consumers from being led to commercial sources. Officials say they will still allow bureaus to advertise their products, but only after consumers get their free copy. Many consumers complained that they were misled mainly because even the official website has several advertisements leading to commercial sources.

In addition, websites will be banned from requiring consumers to create an account with them before giving a free credit report. To create better proposals, the FTC asked consumers to give their comments.
Of the 1,000 who submitted their comments, an overwhelming majority supported the proposed changes. Aside from consumers and clients, US Senator Carl Levin, the National Consumer Law Center, and the National Association of Attorneys General Support gave out their support. The FTC will review the submitted proposals and will announce whether to implement them or not in time for the full implementation of the CARD Act of 2009, which is on Feb. 22, 2010. Several websites complained that their marketing will become more restricted if the changes are implemented, which they claim will eventually hinder them from properly providing their services.

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