Despite Advertisements, Credit Reports Aren’t Always Free
What do you think of when you hear ads for FreeCreditReport.com? Call me crazy, but I always assumed they were publicizing a way to, you know, get a free credit report.
I guess I'm more gullible than I thought. Turns out that the company gives you a credit report, alright - but for a pretty penny. Once you sign up for their services online, you're enrolled in their credit monitoring program, meaning you'll pay $14.95 per month for them to notify you of any changes to your credit. Some quick math reveals that's $180 a year - no small change, considering most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling with debt.
Not surprisingly, this isn't sitting well with the Federal Trade Commission, which believes the company is intentionally luring people away from a government website that offers truly free credit reports - AnnualCreditReport.com. Uncle Sam requires that the three major credit bureaus - Experian, Equifax and TransUnion - hand over a free report to consumers every year.
FreeCreditReport.com (which is owned by Experian) isn't the only company to push credit monitoring services. All of the credit bureaus offer some sort of credit monitoring, as do the many credit card companies that they partner with.
But not only is the service expensive, it's also a gimmick. If you've experienced recent changes that have affected your credit - or you're a complete credit report virgin - then by all means, take advantage of the government's free service and find out where you stand. But you don't need to pay for monthly monitoring.
If your financial behavior is pretty stable, you've got nothing to worry about. And if you're maxing out credit cards and missing payments, you know your credit is going downhill - you shouldn't have to pay someone to tell you that. Rather than watch your credit like a hawk, why not actually do something about it?
Identify what is causing those late payments and exceeded credit limits. For most folks, it's too much debt. When you owe creditors and lenders a lot of money, you're probably also paying a lot of interest - meaning a large portion of your paycheck is going to bills other than your house payment, the utilities, the groceries, etc. But when you lower or eliminate your debt burden, you free up that cash -- so you can put it towards the necessities you once struggled to pay.
Filing for bankruptcy is one of the most effective and affordable paths to debt freedom. To learn more about bankruptcy, try a free personal debt analysis with one of our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers. No strings attached.