Nov 10, 2009
It has been stressed many times over by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and many consumer-advocacy organizations: credit reports should be, and is, free. Despite their efforts though, there are still a number of unscrupulous companies that want to seek to abuse consumers. These firms also divert consumers away from a government-backed site where they can get easy access to their free online credit report.
Even one of the credit bureau, Experian, has gotten the ire of FTC because of their Freecreditreport.com. The site has been under the FTC’s watch for some time now because they mislead people into believing they need to pay a certain fee to get their credit report. Additionally, another one of their tactic is to use the report as bait so that people will sign up to the $14.95 a month service that alerts members to changes in their status.
The government itself has not taken an active stance in discrediting the service, which is fast becoming a $1 billion niche. Currently, the biggest player in this niche is Experian. The company’s market share is over twice that of its three competitors. Experian spent $54 million on television advertising to attract the attention of this market.
The main issue with credit monitoring services is that most don’t actually need it. Most people who have signed up often do so unwittingly. Basically, all a credit monitoring service will do is provide consumers with updates about their credit files. While the service can be beneficial for identity theft victims, it is only a waste of money for the vast majority. Most individuals don’t modify their accounts drastically, and when they decide to, they are typically aware of what it will do to their credit rating. If any errors occur on the report, checking it and reporting to the appropriate credit bureau is often enough. The greatest use for these monitoring services that I found was when I was taking actions to improve my credit score. I was able to monitor my progress and see how my actions directly impacted my score.
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