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?