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First let me say that I love those FreeCreditReport.com commercials. I sincerely hope they do not take them off the air. The problem is that the commercial itself does seem to imply that if you go to this website, you will receive a free copy of your credit report. The commercial does not make it clear that when you go to the website and enter your information, you are also agreeing to a monthly charge of $14.95 for a credit monitoring service.

One of the users of the website has now brought a class action suit in a California federal court against Experian, the website owner, claiming false advertising. As my clients and students are well aware, these are the exact types of lawsuits I have been warning website owners about for years.

This may be a hard case to prove because once you are on the FreeCreditReport.com website, the terms seem pretty clear. The website indicates on the landing page that this credit report is provided free to those who agree to try the credit report monitoring program, which program can be cancelled within 9 days. It is not hidden on a separate page, and even includes a statement that this is not the free credit report required by federal law. In addition, although many people are aware of this requirement that credit bureaus must provide a free copy of your credit report on an annual basis, I doubt people are mistaking the catchy commercial for the actual site (www.annualcreditreport.com).

The real problem is that now Experian will have to defend itself in federal court. As with most class actions, Experian will probably have to settle it. I’d really like to see them fight it. Regardless of how it turns out, I hope those commercials continue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dFbNw3bpKE

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