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July 27, 2009

FreeScore.com: Not Exactly Free

Filed under: Finance,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:30 am

Freescore.com has just begun advertising (with Ben Stein as its spokesman) that you can get credit scores from all three credit bureaus free:

freescore

You will note that nowhere in this main panel above on their website  is there ANY disclosure about cost and obligation. “When you try FreeScore” does not communicate anything. And there is not even an asterisk.

*MOUSE PRINT:

*A refundable $1.00 processing fee applies.

And only when you decide to sign up for the “free” scores, do you learn the rest of the details:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Simply click “View Scores” on the next page to activate your trial membership in FreeScore and claim your Free 3-in-1 Credit Report and Triple Credit Score! To activate your trial membership in FreeScore, you will be charged/debited a $1.00 refundable processing fee and then you can immediately take advantage of the exciting savings FreeScore has to offer! After your 7-day FREE trial period it’s just $29.95 per month for FreeScore. Remember, you can call FreeScore toll-free at 1-800-316-8824 within the first 7 days to cancel, and you will not be charged/debited. Also, remember to ask for a refund of your $1 processing fee.

As with similar offers for credit monitoring services, you only get your “free” scores by signing up for a trial membership in a credit report access program for nearly $30 a month — a new high. (These things used to cost $79 a year, but without any credit scores.)

Their TV commercial is no better, and arguably worse:

freescore2

*MOUSE PRINT:   For only about one and half seconds is a disclaimer on the screen in the tiniest of fonts that says “scores and reports free with trial membership in FreeScore.” There is no disclosure at all about a refundable $1 processing charge.

Trans Union is the provider of this service, and one would have thought the lessons that Experian learned (after the FTC went after them) would be apparent: you should be upfront on the website and say to get your “free” scores you must join a trial program for $1 and that it will cost you money if you fail to cancel within X period of time.

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25 Comments

  1. Another piece of information missing anywhere on the web site… what type of credit score is provided. Lenders use the FICO scoring method. Mostly likely, the score sold is an Advantage score that lenders typically do not use. For all we know, it could be a completely different type of score that does not compare to anything or is used by anyone making a loan decision.

    Comment by Marc — July 27, 2009 @ 7:08 pm
  2. Well, they offer a 7 day trial so we’ll get ALL that was advertised free. Who doensn’t read fine prints when singning up for ANYTHING online… They better unplug the net cable..
    and how hard is to give them a call or email them to cancel ?

    instead of bitching.. let’s just be thankful that they give us, cheap people, that info for free and let us cancel right after we printed off all reports.

    (Now.. if you’re gonna argue that that info should be FREE-for-all by law… I agree, but that’s another discussion..)

    Comment by Alisha — July 28, 2009 @ 9:20 am
  3. I thought it _was_ free by law.

    Edgar replies: Credit reports are free at http://www.annualcreditreport.com ; but scores are NOT free (and not required to be).

    Comment by Boris — July 28, 2009 @ 12:08 pm
  4. They charge/refund the $1 so that they can verify the bank account you provide is real.
    Edgar replies: They charge your CREDIT CARD $1 so they know your number and have a way to charge you $29.95 a month after the trial ends (if you don’t cancel).

    Comment by Bernanke — July 28, 2009 @ 12:34 pm
  5. After Ben’s movie it is a wonder that anyone is willing to accept him as a spokesperson for anything. That film was fraught with so much misinformation you could drive a battleship through it.

    Comment by Mac — July 28, 2009 @ 8:48 pm
  6. Alisha, you miss the point.

    It is not about out scamming the scammers. It is about deception.

    Comment by Richard B. — July 29, 2009 @ 1:25 am
  7. If you pay off all your debts, cancel all your credit accounts and never buy anything on credit again you will end up with a FICO score of zero in about a years time, then you won’t have to worry about checking your credit score.

    Comment by Shawn — July 29, 2009 @ 9:24 am
  8. there you go Shawn…!

    if life would be that easy…

    Comment by Alisha — July 29, 2009 @ 10:43 pm
  9. Richard, I understand that Signing up for a trial KNOWING 100% beforehand that you’ll be cancelling that same week could be called ‘scamming the scammers’

    Now, I take ‘deception’ as if I didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed up, and that’s not true when you can read the fine print (which it isn’t really ‘fine’. it’s preety big on a side of the signup page..)

    the only ‘free’ part of their service is the trial AND the word ‘free’ in the URL / link.
    we should know already that there is no free stuff without strings attached, and by taking 1 minute reading fine prints.. we can take advantage of sooo many services for free (with their trials..)

    We should wish there were more companies like this one… so every month we can signup for their trials and get our free scores and reports ;o)

    Comment by Alisha — July 29, 2009 @ 10:58 pm
  10. Ben Stein just got fired by the NYT over this commercial.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/07/ben-stein-loses-new-york_n_253855.html
    Too bad he probably made more money with the commercial than with his columns…

    Comment by Jasper — August 7, 2009 @ 2:30 pm
  11. And I thought Ben Stein was honest?! He used to give financial advice. Now I see his commercials with Shaq must be lies also. Can’t trust anybody unless they do these commercials for free.

    Comment by Elizabeth — August 9, 2009 @ 6:42 pm
  12. I had signed up for a free credit report with a membership a while back…. It took about 7 minutes to sign up and about 1-2 hours between being on hold and talking to people who “barely” speak English to cancel. They had an incredibly long phone script they had to drag you through first.

    These companies know people forget to cancel… forget they “have” the service… or otherwise find being on hold for an hour not worth the struggle… now if they could only say that somewhere on the site, that would be nice:

    Dear Customer,

    When you sign up with us today, we know you will forget to unsubscribe from our membership. We know you will wind up paying the unlimited easy payments of 29.99 plus tax, and we value your money. That is why we are able to provide you with your credit report and score for FREE! Please click the next button to continue.

    Sincerely,

    Report Company Ink.

    — Ages

    Comment by Peter — August 13, 2009 @ 4:11 pm
  13. There is a site that actually gives you a free credit score: http://www.creditkarma.com. I’ve been using it for almost a year and I haven’t found a catch to it. They do advertise “offers” (mainly ads for loans and credit cards), but they don’t require your credit card number.

    Comment by Sara — August 20, 2009 @ 6:29 pm
  14. Another site that offers a totally free credit score, no strings, no trials, no credit card required, is http://www.Quizzle.com. Quizzle’s the only site that gives you BOTH a free credit score and a free credit report without requiring that you sign up for a subscription.

    Comment by Ann-Marie — August 28, 2009 @ 3:48 pm
  15. Boo to Ben Stein!!!! My son tried to find out his triple score for FREE but before they knew it they were getting charged for 2 months @ $150 for nothing… they were told they couldn’t run their credit rating & couldn’t check back for 6 months!!!! Therefore they didn’t achieve anything but debt!!!! What kind of a DEAL is that!!!! I told him to take it the Better Business Bureau & complain!!!! Bait & Switch!!!! So wrong!!!! My Kids didn’t deserve that because they are trying with a new baby to do all they right things!!!! This is wrong!

    Comment by Bonnie — September 24, 2009 @ 11:17 pm
  16. I am so sorry I did not find this web site before I got took for $59.00. What a way to make a fast buck.

    Comment by Jackie McBride — October 19, 2009 @ 9:51 am
  17. Alisha clearly works for this Freescore.com company!

    Thanks so much to Sara and to Anne-Marie for providing other sites! Jackie, I feel your pain. I got taken a while back in on a “great” offer by a different kind of service, and since then, I check the web for comments on just about everything I do. Thank to everyone for your insights!

    Comment by Cameoper — December 22, 2009 @ 11:58 am
  18. Not only do they want $ 1.00, they only alow you to use credit cards, none of which I have.
    I do have a debit cards, however, they are not listed.

    I only have a credit card / ATM access card from my credit union which is accepted world wide but not for on-line use!

    I would like to see more than the four cards they will acept!

    Comment by Ben Gaines — February 22, 2010 @ 12:18 pm
  19. My father is 78 years old and fairly new to using computers. He seen the advertisement and clicked on the free credit reports. He did not receive the reports andin looking at his bank staement he was charged 29.95 for February. I went back and looked at prior bank statement and they got him for January and December of 09 as well, when he first clicked on. No phone number or name was on the January and February statements. I got the phone number from the December statement and when I called it gave me his “membership” I.D. # and the URL. The recording gives instructions on how to cancel, but they do not function. We were going to go to the bank yesterday but he had a heart attack and is currently in the hospital. I am going to the bank to see if we can go after these swindlers as soon as I can as well as report them to the BBB. My dad earned less than 9.000.00 last year and is strugling to get by and he thought the site was legit because Ben Stein was endorsing them. Very upset Father and Son in Chicago.

    Comment by John — March 4, 2010 @ 9:25 am
  20. He lost all credibility with me when he picked up a brown German shorthaired pointer, threw it across his knee, and rubbed his belly ON CAMERA (this was on his old Comedy Central talk show, after they cancelled the game show so Kimmel could do his show)

    Comment by Ricticassee — March 23, 2010 @ 2:23 pm
  21. CreditKarma did give me a credit score and yes, no tricks EXCEPT it is only your score from TransUnion and not the other two. I submitted a query to this site about that and I have not heard back from them.

    Comment by Jill — July 1, 2010 @ 1:17 am
  22. MY EXPERIENCE WITH “FREE SCORE” WAS THAT YOU PUT YOU’RE DEBIT CARD NUMBER IN SO A DOLLAR CAN BE CHARGED TO ROR’RE ACCOUNT. I DID THIS BUT WAS’NT ABLE TO VIEW THE SCORES. I CALLED THEM TO COUNCLE THIS AND THOUGHT ALL WAS WELL. I GUESS I’M NOT A VERY PRUDENT PERSON. I RELY ON THE PHONE TO CHECK MY CHECKING ACCOUNT AND BALENCES. I CECEK TO SEE WHAT CHECKS HAVE CLEARED. IT WASNT UNTIL TODAY THAT I PRESSED THE PROMPT THAT TELLS YOU THE LAST ATM OR OTHER WITHDRAWLES. THE PROMPT SAID 29.95 UNKNOWN. I CALLED MY BANK AND FOUND THEY HAVE BEEN DEBTING MY ACCOUNT SINCE APRIL OF THIS YEAR, 2010.
    DOES ANY ONE HAVE EXPERIENCE DEALING WITH FREE SCORE ABOUT CACELING THE CHARGE AND BEING REFUNDING? TO THIS DAY I’VE NEVER USED THEIR SERVICES. CAN SOMEONE HELP ME.

    Comment by NATHAN — December 12, 2010 @ 4:02 pm
  23. Can anyone tell me if in the terms of use section for the “free trial”, it states that the day you sign up is included as day 1? My experience is this… I signed up on a Sunday, then cancelled the following Sunday. I was then told so rudely that I was charged the monthly fee because I was subscribed for 8 days. I’ve never had this type of terrible “customer service” experience in my life. No explanation was initially given until I had to drag it out of the woman. So, beware people, your free trial is for 7 days including the day that you sign up regardless if it is at 11:59 pm or not. And, if you sign up for the trial on the last day of the month, and you cancel on day “8”, you will not have access to your reports, because it goes off a basis of the month you are in (As explained to me, if that makes any sense at all). I was not impressed by the services provided here, hense the cancellation, and I would strongly urge anyone else to use a different service! Sometimes all it takes is for a good experience with a company to difuse, even if you aren’t happy with the “product”. This is not that type of company.

    Comment by Lisa — February 12, 2011 @ 1:40 pm
  24. To me this is false advertising, as when you think it is free…after first month, it was not free.. had $ 29.95 charge on my credit card. Probably in very small print somewhere but beware after giving credit card information for the refundable $1.00. They have you credit card information and like said began charging $29.95 a month. Once found out called them and cancelled immediately.

    Comment by Jake — February 15, 2011 @ 4:08 pm
  25. $29.95 a month…they are charging me $34.95 and I cancelled it months ago. Total rip off !

    Comment by hugh goetz — September 9, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

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