Why aren't credit scores free anyway?

creditreport.comThe New York Times reports on a topic that's long been a pet peeve of many financial-minded people: those pesky FreeCreditReport.com ads that are a classic bait and switch marketing technique designed to coax consumers into signing up for expensive monthly credit monitoring services.

The FTC is now running its own spoof ads warning consumers about the misleading marketing. According to the Times, "But while the government has taken issue with the ads, it has had little to say about credit monitoring services themselves, a rapidly expanding niche approaching $1 billion in sales for which millions of people have signed up, often unwittingly. The problem, say critics, is that most people really don't need it."You can get into a really granular argument about the advertising and relative merits of the various credit monitoring services, but the real issue is this: it is absolutely absurd that consumers should have to pay for their own credit reports. It amazes me that more people aren't pissed off about what a racket this is.

Can you imagine if colleges charged students to see their grades? The credit score is, for better or for worse, vital to the financial lives of a lot of people -- it's information they collect based on your behavior and then sell to companies, so you should have an opportunity to see what your credit score is. And remember: because they collect the data anyway to sell to lenders, there is almost no expense -- other than the millions spent on those annoying TV commercials -- in providing the credit scores to consumers.

It's your credit score. You oughta be able to log-on to your computer whenever the hell you want, and check your score as often as you freakin' want to, and it shouldn't cost you anything. It's your credit score.

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