I’ve blogged in the past about FreeCreditReport.com and the fact that I think it ought to be shut down. This is one of the rather obnoxious attempts by the credit reporting agencies to exploit people’s fears of identity theft as a tool to generate money.
FreeCreditReport.com is not free. You can get your free credit report at the official site, AnnualCreditReport.com.
Here’s a terrific spoof of a FreeCreditReport.com commercial. These commercials appear all over cable TV with jingles about how people’s lives were ruined by identity theft or bad credit and how all their woes could have been averted if they only used FreeCreditReport.com:
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that credit reporting agencies “follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates.” 15 U.S.C. § 1681 e(b). If services like FreeCreditReport.com are really necessary to protect oneself from inaccuracies, then why wouldn’t these be required by the FCRA for free? If such services are unnecessary, then the advertisements are doubly false — trying to sell consumers a “free” service that’s not really free plus selling a service as essential and necessary yet that’s unnecessary.
As I wrote in my previous post:
The other irony is this: It is the practices of the credit reporting agencies that have put many consumers at risk for identity theft. Now, they are selling consumers protection from a problem that is at least in part their own making. It reminds me of the scene in The Godfather Part II, where the mob would rob and pillage people’s stores and then offer security protection for a fee.
Hat tip: BoingBoing
Originally Posted at Concurring Opinions
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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.