Monday, March 23, 2009

Recession profiteering

You shoulda seen this comin' atcha like an atom bomb.

And you know who I’m talking about--the smirky little weasel who sings garage-band songs about finding out his credit rating is in the tank. The commercials are everywhere--I don't need to link to their URL, since you probably hear it in your sleep.

The FTC has finally had to get involved (and on the side of consumers too--one more reason to be glad Republicans don't control the regulatory apparatus anymore), since these guys have joined the ranks of predatory financial operators taking advantage of economic bad times to market a rip-off (some legal, some not) disguised as consumer help.

The gimmick? The annoying TV jingle singers are pimping a service that does indeed provide your credit report for free--if you don't forget to cancel the service before the free 7-day trial period runs out. And if you do forget, your "free" credit report will start costing you $14.95/month.

Here's the deal, via Econ4U:

These sites actually end up charging their customers for credit monitoring subscriptions, and they don’t even offer anything you can’t already get for free.

As the FTC says, "Despite the musical claims of some TV commercials, the only authorized source to get your free annual credit report under federal law is"

Federal law requires each of the big three credit bureaus to give you a free credit report every year. That means you can get three credit reports annually, all without paying a dime.

Unfortunately, the FTC seems to have concluded that the way to combat a series of annoying TV spot featuring twenty-somethings singing amateurish-sounding jingles about consumer credit . . . is with more TV spots featuring twenty-somethings singing amateurish-sounding jingles about consumer credit. I'm sure they mean well, but this does not inspire confidence:

(Oh yeah--and that guy singing the jingle in the offending ads is a Canadian comedian. Do with that last factoid what you will.)

No comments: