Experian Faces Class Action Lawsuit over FreeCreditReport.com Ads

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Erica Possin deserves a parade, or at least a round of applause. Erica, a college student, is standing up to the mammoth credit bureau Experian as the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed against FreeCreditReport.com (a/k/a Experian).  The suit claims that Experian knowingly and deliberately advertised free credit reports that are not actually free!  Experian's credit reports are only available if you agree to let them charge you $14.95 a month for credit monitoring services. The trouble is, Experian doesn't disclose that tidbit of information in their ads. 

Erica, not unlike the many consumers I have heard from over the years, believed that the catchy little jingles such as "F-R-E-E spells FREE, Baby" meant the credit report was free.  The trouble is, it isn't.  By law, we are all entitled to a free annual credit report, but freecreditreport.com isn't the place to get THAT one.

Erica Possin and her attorney Balestriere Fariello intend to stop all this confusion, or as they put it: unfair competition, false advertising, willful deception, fraud, negligence and unjust enrichment. They are seeking damages, restitution and an injunction in what appears to be a collective shaking of their legal index finger pointing squarely at Experian's deep pockets saying:  Enough is enough. No more screwing consumers.  And many consumers, myself included, say whoohoo -it's about time!
When an advertiser tells you that you are getting something for free, it doesn't mean the same thing as buy this and we will give you this one free. Even supermarkets advertise BOGO (buy one, get one) in big, bold letters, informing consumers that they must first buy something in order to get something for free. What's wrong with a giant company like Experian that it couldn't do the same?
There is a huge difference between ordering a free credit report and finding yourself duped into a monthly $14.95 credit monitoring fee.  But perhaps Experian doesn't understand that.  You'd think they'd get the message since they've been the subject of two earlier FTC enforcement actions -both revolving around the marketing of their "free credit reports". It looks to many of us that Experian simply tweaks their jingle and continues on with business as usual. (See FTC press releases from 2005 and 2007)
In spite of the thousands of confused and complaining consumers who ended up with multiple credit card charges for their "free" credit report, Experian denies any wrong doing. Of course! They continue to claim that their intentions are honorable. Of course! And recently, a spokeswoman for Experian defended the company against the allegations that they used deceptive practices in advertising this particular type of credit report, stating:
"FreeCreditReport.com is a trusted partner for millions of Americans who want more than a free credit report. We make it very clear to consumers visiting the site that the free credit report and score is part of enrollment in the Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring and that if they don't cancel their membership within the seven-day trial period, they will be billed monthly," stated the Experian spokeswoman. "While it wouldn't be appropriate to speculate what the FTC's final rules will be, we can tell you we remain committed to clearly and conspicuously disclosing to consumers that the free report we offer is not the free annual credit file disclosure provided by federal law."
As this scenario continues to play out, hopefully more and more consumers will learn that F-R-E-E doesn't always spell free.  Maybe now Experian will finally stop claiming it does. Only time will tell. In the mean time, enjoy an FTC spoof video that points out the legitimate place to obtain your really free credit report!

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I got sucked into the "FREE" and gave them my ATM numer for a 30 day "free report". My bad. I cancelled before 30 days and continued to be billed monthly. The results have been to have a new ATM card issued. I continue to be billed and am working with my bank to correct. False advertising? YES! Experian and the two other credit sources should be responsible!Include me in a Class Action lawsuit!

They do monitor... but watch your scores.. when cic pulled mine for a morgage.. it was over 100 pts lower than what free credit said it was... now I'm still trying to fix the mess and can't get a morgage... talk about screwed.

How do I get involved in the class action lawsuit? I have proof and a voice recorded conversation. All of this over $24.95. So frustrating.

We were also suckered with this site. I have made the complaint to the BBB as well, but it seems as I am one of MANY? Is there a class action lawsuit currently being pursued with Experian on their unethical practices? If so... we are interested in assisting.

This is so deceitful and we must do something to avoid further consumers getting into the same situation we have.

I co-signed with a cousin for a store credit card to help her build her credit history. She responsibly paid everything on time, but suffered a immature, sudden death at a young age. Since she was alone, her last bills weren't paid. When the bank tracked me down, I paid all the balances to protect my credit history. However, every address she has ever been, was also reported on my credit history although I've never been there, including an address that is now foreclosure. Although I understood my responsibility as co-signer to pay, co-signing 1 credit card should not get you to be responsible for every other aspect of the co-signer life.

This company has taken money off my account several times. I called them and cancelled, but they continue to take money off my debit card! This has happened several times. How do I get involved in this class action suit? What a scam…………somebody needs to stop them!!!

I got burned by them twice!!! and the second time, in a whole new way. I got my credit score a year or so ago and got screwed by the monthly membership fee that time, so knew this year to cancel within the first week after i got my supposed $1 credit score.

However, when i checked my credit card details prior to canceling, i noticed a $31.95 charge from them. When i question them about it on the phone,i was told this is what they charge you to get ALL 3 REPORTS. I really don't remember this being clearly called out that i would be charged $32. The whole Freecreditreport experience leads you to believe you are getting your rightful access to your credit score.

For a company that sells themselves on knowing your score to help prevent fraud and help you track your finances, they do a pretty good job of doing exactly what they are suppose to be protecting against!!!!!

The whole experience is false advertising and they should be stopped!

They have a new scam going. I get a letter from them telling me that 5 potentially negative items have been added to my credit report and I am entitled to a free report. But...guess what? I go to the URL it gives in the letter and fill out all the damned information only to be told I have to pay for it. WTH???

Maybe they figure if they get you all worried about what's in your report, and you've gone that far, you'll go ahead and pay for it. BS

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