Scam of the day – October 11, 2016 – FTC refunding 20 million dollars to victims of “free” credit monitoring scam

Following the settlement of lawsuits brought by Illinois, Ohio and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against One Technologies, a company that offered free credit monitoring and then without the knowledge or assent of its customers charged them $29.95 per month for the “free” service, the FTC is now sending out refunds checks to victims of the scam.  One Technologies marketed their scam through at least fifty websites using the names MyCreditHealth, Score Sense, FreeScore360.com, FreeScoreOnine.com and ScoreSense.com.  One Technologies paid for advertising on Google, Bing and other search engines so that their advertisements would appear near the top of the page when searching for free credit reports and similar terms.

TIPS

For specific information about the refunds, go to the top of this page to the tab entitled FTC Scam Refunds.  People interested in getting a free copy of their credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion should remember that the only government authorized way to access your credit reports free is by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.  Many companies offer what appear to be free credit reports, however, if you read the fine print, you may find that, as in this case, you are unwittingly signing up for a continuing service.  When signing up for any free service, you should never provide your credit card number.  Sometimes scammers lie to you by saying that they need your credit card number merely for confirmation purposes.  Finally, it is important to remember that merely because a company appears high on the page in a search engine inquiry, does not mean that the company is legitimate.  It may only mean that the company either paid for the spot, as One Technologies did, or the company is adept at manipulating the algorithms used by the search engines to determine placement.  It does not mean that the company has been checked out to be legitimate.

Scam of the day – November 22, 2014 – FTC takes action against “free” credit score scams

The Federal Trade Commission along with the Attorneys General of Illinois and Ohio has announced a settlement with three companies that marketed what the companies advertised as free credit scores and then billed the unsuspecting customers $29.95 per month for credit monitoring services that they neither wanted nor knew that they had ordered.  Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants will be refunding 22 million dollars to scammed customers.  The companies marketed their programs MyCreditHealth and ScoreSense through at least fifty websites and bought advertising on Google and Bing that would appear high on a list when consumers looked for “free credit reports.”  One of their misleading ads read “View your latest Credit Scores from All 3 Bureaus in 60  seconds for $0.”  In the fine print of their agreement, the companies were able to bill the consumers’ credit cards until the customers called to cancel their membership.  Even then, the companies, in many instances did not cancel the contract until after repeated calls.

TIPS

It is important to note that a credit report and a credit score are not the same thing.  Your credit report, which you have a right to a free annual copy of at each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion and Experian does not contain your FICO credit score which is derived from the information in your credit report and used by companies to measure your creditworthiness.  There are many companies that also promise free copies of your credit report only to do the same scam of charging you hidden monthly fees for additional services.  The only website to use for your free credit report is www.annualcreditreport.com.  You should also be wary of any company that offers something free and then asks for your credit card.  This is a red flag that what you are ordering is not free.  There are no websites that offer your actual FICO credit score at no charge although there are a number of websites including CreditKarma, CreditSesame and Quizzle that will provide a free approximation of your score sometimes called a FAKO score that can be helpful.