Some Free Credit Reports Come With Strings Attached
If you've watched any amount of TV in the past couple years, you've probably caught the ads for FreeCreditReport.com. You know, where the guy and his band are in a pirate-themed restaurant or his parents' basement, singing about how his failure to keep an eye on his credit ruined his life. It's catchy, for sure, but it's not entirely truthful.
Despite the name, FreeCreditReport.com isn't actually free. Signing up to get your credit report also gets you enrolled in a credit monitoring program that charges $14.95 a month. Most customers don't even realize what they've signed up for -- before they know it, they're shelling out $180 a year (a big deal, considering the majority of folks are already struggling to make the mortgage).And the ones who knowingly sign up are led to believe that paying to keep monthly tabs on their credit is a good deal.
What they don't realize is that Uncle Sam offers a way better deal - absolutely free credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com. That's because the government requires that each of the three major credit bureaus - TransUnion, Equifax and Experian - provide consumers with a free annual report.
But the credit bureaus themselves (Experian just happens to own FreeCreditReport.com) and credit card companies that are partnering with them figured they could turn such a service into a lucrative business by taking advantage of consumers' curiosity about the state of their credit.
Here's the truth. It's good to check your credit once in awhile to understand how your actions affect your rating - and to make sure you're not a victim of identity theft. But you don't need to check your credit compulsively. If you haven't changed your behavior, your report is probably not going to differ from the last time you viewed it. And if you're constantly exceeding your credit limit or missing payment due dates, your credit is going to suffer - you don't need a business to tell you that.
Constantly checking your credit isn't going to make it better (and if you overextend yourself by paying a company like FreeCreditReport.com, it could actually make your score worse). But improving your finances can. For many folks, it's debt that leads to late payments and maxed out credit cards. Bankruptcy can help you reduce or eliminate your debt burden so you can apply those payments elsewhere - to little things like, oh, your rent or house payment.
Like AnnualCreditReport.com, bankruptcy is your legal right as a U.S. citizen. It also happens to be one of the surest ways to get out of debt. To find out more, schedule a free personal debt analysis with one of our Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys. No catchy jingles here - just real help.