Credit Report Companies: Just Another Scam

18434056-taking-a-look-at-a-credit-reportWant to know what the biggest con-game is? Not the Nigerian prince. We’re all on to him.

No, it’s the credit report agencies.

A couple of weeks ago I was in need of a credit report. As one of the gazillions who used a credit card in a Target store during Nov 27 and Dec 15, Target sent me an email warning me about identity theft, and suggested I contact one of the credit report companies to check on my credit.

After spending two hours on hold in order to replace my credit card, I proceeded to visit the Experian website. Which is how I fell into their snare and into the biggest scam of all.

First, the “free” report I’m entitled to per year cost me a dollar, so technically, that’s not free. But I figured I could manage that.

Yet every step of the way, as I filled out my information online, in order to get my score, they kept trying to press me to buy more of their services.

They pointed out that a dollar only gets me a free report from Experian. But that they could give me my scores from the other two companies if I paid them 20 times more.

I kept saying no to their pleas to sell me a bill of goods, as all I wanted was my report. After much maneuvering, I got what I needed and left the site.

About a week later I received an email saying that my “trial” period ended and they were going to start charging my credit card $20 per month just so I can have them on retainer should I ever need another report.

Only I missed that email.

As it happens, this was smack in the middle of the holidays and I was busy, oh yeah–spending time with FAMILY, and not checking my email. Then, yada yada, a couple of days ago, with my daughter gone and my son back at work, I got around to paying bills and checking my credit cards for possible fraudulent charges due to that Target breach. Lo and behold, I did find a charge! Only it wasn’t as a result of any credit card fraud criminals.

It was Experian! They’d gone ahead and charged my credit card for the first installment.

Now I ask you, $20 a month?? Is it worth it? Am I supposed to be checking my score everyday? Sure! As long as I’m paying beaucoup bucks for the privilege, I might as well be demanding a full credit report on my desk every morning.

For this is exactly where I want to be spending my money (insert hint of sarcasm here). Not putting it in my savings, not investing in my future, but in my almighty credit score, which I’m going to need to know at all times, right?

Honestly, Experian must think there’s a fool born every minute and I’m just the latest to be hijacked into their fold. Yes, I’m neurotic but not when it comes to my credit. I’m not ready to check it on a daily basis and pay $240 a year for the privilege, as if I have nothing else to do with my time or money. If they had their way, I’d be swimming in reports! I’d be printing them constantly and wallpapering my bathroom with them. Great reading material for me and my guests!

Here’s the thing about credit report companies: They do not exist to provide a public service and help you stay above the fraud fray. They are here to make money and they do this by selling fear.

Fear of identity theft. Not that they can prevent it and guarantee it’ll never happen to you. No, these credit report companies just want you to hand over your money so that you can scan through your reports, constantly on the lookout for identity theft, credit card fraud, etc., because you never know when you’ll be hit. They’ll scare the living daylights out of you until you relinquish every penny you have for the sake of your credit. Kind of like making a pact with the Mob.

Well, I called Experian and canceled my so-called membership, and through the entire cancellation process, they kept trying to sell me new services. Even offered to cut the monthly fee in half, if it meant keeping me in their snare, where identity thieves lurk in every corner.

Which just goes to show you: a scammer never quits.

Bottom line: They kept my dollar that got me into this mess in the first place. And they also insisted on keeping my $20 bucks, as a lesson to me for not reading the fine print.

So now I know. I must read the stinking fine print–which most of us hate to bother with at all. (Oh, if only I could get someone like Colin Firth to read me the fine print, so that I wouldn’t have to read it myself!) I also now know that I have to check my email religiously, to make sure no company tries to entrap me again.

So has anything like this ever happened to you?

24 thoughts on “Credit Report Companies: Just Another Scam

  1. Shit, Monica. Can’t say I’ve ever experienced that, but what crap! I may sound like a cynic, but that’s part of what I appreciate about living in country with a cash economy.

    Sorry to have been away since Christmas. We had guests from the US and then did some traveling around our new country. Didn’t always have internet. I’m trying now to get back into the swing of things.

    Hope you had a great holiday. Happy New Year.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I’ve missed you, Kathy! Hope you had a wonderful holiday. I know you’re catching up, but I do hope you read my last two chapters of Lightning in a Jar, that I posted while you were away. I always value your input and would love to know your thoughts on it. Hugging you right back!

  2. I don’t know if my earlier comment will land in your spam or not, since it has a link to the Federal Trade Commission website, so I am writing another. I totally agree with you, credit agencies are in the business of selling fear. Your post today is a great public service announcement, perhaps may save someone else from getting ripped off.

    After the Target fiasco, I cancelled my debit card (used at Target, but not during the specified dates) and decided to use prepaid cards not linked to my accounts, just the same as I do for online purchases, if I don’t want to carry cash. If Target can be hacked, so can any other store.

  3. $20.00 lesson!! It cost me $80.00. Last year I got my report and my 20 year old son’s We both wanted to know our credit report and what’s $1.00! I used an e-mail address I use for orders and junk mail. Only checking it monthly. Saw the $20 for me and $20. for him on my bank statement. I meant to call but forgot and went on vacation. Totaling forgetting until I see another $20 each. By the time I called to cancel both of them, it cost me $80.00
    I agree who in their right mind would pay $20 a month.

  4. Ridiculous. I’m so sorry this happened now during the holidays when all you want is “Peace.” I went through something with a fake yahoo when I thought my e-mail was compromised. Called a yahoo service rep, they asked me if I knew someone in “Ru-si-a”, scared me to pieces, tried to get me to purchase a super-duper filter, and then highly suspicious I hung up and I got the REAL yahoo. All those service numbers need to be double checked and verified. When I got the REAL yahoo, I advised them of this “service rep” giving them the # I had called. Unfortunately, I had already killed yahoo and a history of e-mail, I had kept in folders was gone + business cards with the yahoo e-mail are no longer good. Carpetbaggers and scalawags for lack of a better name…sheesh!

    • Georgette, be careful with yahoo email. It’s known for being used for scams. I know, as I was almost scammed couple of years by someone who had a yahoo account. Gmail is way better!

  5. When you order the report you can stipulate cancel after your free 30 days. Save email as proof. You can still do this although lost that first $20. Screaming and whining sometime works for them to refund the charge esp if you relate you know a lot of olive skinned people with lots of vowels in their name like mine. These people are composed of 5 families. The worse fraud is when they say your card has been compromised and send them a fee and ss# and they will fix it. The documents are very official looking and many elderly fall prey. If you have an account most banks will give you a report free. I know Wells Fargo does. As long as you watch your bill each month you probably don’t need any of this junk as your bank handles any fraud on your card. They also monitor your shopping and other purchases so they can saturate you email with ads. If you enter these sweepstakes they invade everyone on your contacts and in fine print you will see you have enrolled in their telephone service as a condition of sweepstakes entry. They charge you for making a call and charge the person receiving the call as well. State and federal laws are weak in this area of consumer protection. Walmart also gets all your info when you sign up for their “free” $500 gift card. Yeah, right. I know it all as Miami is con man and boiler room city. Some of these guys could sell snow to an Eskimo.

  6. What a crying shame, Monica — and during the holidays, too! I find it exceedingly aggravating that companies which promise to “protect” you only want to frighten you and entrap you into paying for stuff you don’t need or want.
    They do the same thing periodically via JCPenney, which sends me a postcard advising me to call a toll-free number to enter a sweepstakes, then once I’ve entered, they switch me to a representative who wants to sell me life insurance. I repeat “No” over and over until they’re convinced I mean it, then I get to hang up.
    Sorry you had to endure this $20 lesson!

  7. The big scam in this neck of the woods as far as I am concerned because I am self employed are the companies that request I update my details in trade journals that I have never heard of, and in the small print say they will invoice me for €100+. They go straight in the bit bucket.

    You have my sympathies Monica. It’s a shame these days that we have to watch out for those who often claim they watch out for us.

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