Free credit reports are rarely free

Man holding credit report

The websites promoting such deals only provide "free" credit reports when you buy your credit score., the most egregious of these misleading websites, is owned by Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies.

In August 2005, it paid the Federal Trade Commission $950,000 to settle allegations of deceptive advertising. It paid another $300,000 in February 2007 after being accused of new violations that broke the terms of its initial settlement. charges $14.95 for an Experian credit report and credit score based on that history.

Reports and scores from all three credit-reporting agencies cost $39.95. is the site the credit agencies established to comply with the federal law that requires each of them to provide one free history a year.

Since the law doesn't require the agencies to provide your credit score for free, they don't. You have to pay for that.

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