The ads said free. Consumerinfo.com, a subsidiary of Experian, one of the three national consumer credit reporting agencies, advertised free credit reports. Consumers, the Federal Trade Commission says, were deceived. They were signed up for a trial 30-day service, Consumerinfo's credit monitoring program, and if they didn't cancel, they were billed for a full year membership cost of $79.95. Now Consumerinfo.com is paying a price: $950,000 in settlement fees as well as having to offer refunds to qualifying customers. Experian says it regrets any confusion. The company denies that its ads were ever misleading but has worked with the FTC to make the terms of the free offer more clear. Also being made more clear: the Web site is not the official one set up by the federal government. The official site is called www.annualcreditreport.com. It was included in The Fact Act which gives consumers the right to get one free credit report every 12 months. Free individual credit reports can be also be ordered from the three national credit reporting companies, Equifax, Trans-union, and Experian.
To find out if you qualify for a refund from Consumerinfo.com, log on to www.ftc.gov/freereports.