...when in doubt...
January 3, 2012 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I created an account, and then swiftly deleted it, at Freecreditscore dot com. Is my information safe?

I was setting up a mint.com account, and there was a section for my credit score. I had no idea what mine was, and Mint provided links to a few reporting agencies. I thought to myself "Well, self, it's probably at least somewhat okay? Right?" So I went through with it, found my score too good to be true, and did some digging around: Every other word was "SCAM." All the others were "LAWSUIT."

So I called them and axed the account, and that went fine.

Question is, though, am "I" likely to try to buy a car soon or something? Or does the scam amount more hidden fees and charges and things?

I usually consider myself to be pretty savvy re: this sort of stuff, but I must not be eating my vitamins.
posted by Chutzler to Work & Money (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Question is, though, am "I" likely to try to buy a car soon or something? Or does the scam amount more hidden fees and charges and things?

The freecreditscore and freecreditreport websites are run by Experian, which is one of the big three credit reporting agencies. The reason for the lawsuits was that they were purposely misrepresenting their paid service as being a free credit report, when there is the entirely different actual free credit report mandated by the government that Burhanistan linked to. They don't have any reason to steal your identity because they already have all of your information anyway, they are one of the companies that maintains that information. I don't know the details of how the sites work but if you shut down your account with them you should be fine.

By the way, there's only one official site for the free score, the rest are trying to sell you a service (or worse).

Technically it will only give you free credit reports, not free credit scores. Your credit report is important for making sure that all of the information the credit agencies have on you is correct, but there's not an obvious way to figure out what your score is using that information because your credit score is calculated using a proprietary algorithm. You may not want to give out your financial information to too many places, but CreditKarma is an actual free service that will give you your credit score. It's similar to Mint in that it's free but ad-supported, as far as I know their revenue model revolves mostly around showing you targeted offers for credit cards and whatnot on the site.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:24 PM on January 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The scam was only because they used to sort-of kind-of not talk about how signing up at Freecreditscore.com meant you were ACTUALLY signing up for their whiz-bang extra consumer credit protection service with monthly alerts and shit, and that you would be automatically billed once a month until you cancelled. It was on the fine print when you signed up, but a lot of people weren't reading it and it WAS extra-fine print, so people were suddenly getting hit with these fees a month later and FCS.C was innocently blinking and saying, "but you didn't cancel, so hey."

They were required to make that "you're signing up for this extra service" part more prominent, and that's why at the end of all the ads now you hear a guy saying super-fast "offer requires enrollment in freecreditscore.com services" or something like that. But that's all the "scam" was about -- them not being quite clear enough that the free credit score was part of a free trial offer for a paid service.

Even before they did, some people who were paying attention to the fact that it was a trial offer (points to self) signed up anyway and just cancelled before the two-week trial period ended, just so they could get a super whiz-bang version of their credit score. If they cancelled in time, they didn't get charged, and nothing else happened. I can confirm that I got my credit score again through the usual free means a couple years later, and freecreditscore.com hadn't done anything funky to it during those couple years, so you're okay if you cancelled. (The worst they can do is charge you the monthly fee for their service, but all that takes is you calling them back to say "yo, I cancelled two days later" and they'd say "whoops, sorry" and refund your money.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:25 AM on January 4, 2012

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