End of the 'free' credit report

By Ben Tinker


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Many of the changes put into place by the Credit Card Act of 2009 went into effect back in February; one part of the legislation will go into effect April 2.

Companies that claim to offer you a free credit report as a means of luring you into buying a subscription service now have to disclose that what they're offering isn't really free.

CDs & Money Market
MMA 0.39%
$10K MMA 0.35%
6 month CD 0.35%
1 yr CD 0.69%
5 yr CD 1.39%

Find personalized rates:
 

Rates provided by Bankrate.com.

Disclosure rules for TV and radio ads won't take effect until September however. The rule that kicks in April 1 only requires prominent disclosures online. Web sites that advertise free credit reports but require consumers to sign up for monthly credit monitoring subscriptions, or other services in exchange for the report,will have to change their tune.

Consumers often get confused between these "free" offers that come with strings attached and the government's annualcreditreport.com where you can really get one free credit report per year with no strings attached.

Under the new rules, any Web site advertising free credit reports must include a disclosure notice across the top of each page that mentions the free report, stating "The notice is required by law and you can read more at FTC.gov. Also: You have the right to a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com, or by calling 877-322-8228, the only authorized source under federal law."

How to improve your credit score

For the best credit score, only charge 10% of your available credit limit or less each month. It is a good idea to use your credit card each month but only below this 10% limit.

Use online banking tools to keep a close eye on your account. Many card issuers and banks have text, e-mail and other types of alerts to keep you on track.

Take the time to open every single piece of mail you receive from your credit card company. Focus on the fine print; this is where the pesky details about any changes to your account are usually hidden.

Last but not least -- remember that your credit impacts every part of your life, including your ability to get a loan, a car, a cell phone, even insurance, at an affordable price.

So this is something you really want to stay on top of, year-round.

Remember, under U.S. law you're entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union, at annualcreditreport.com.

Talkback: Have you ever signed up for a free credit report? To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.23%4.19%
15 yr fixed3.26%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.70%3.38%
30 yr refi4.22%4.18%
15 yr refi3.26%3.26%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,279.74 13.75 0.08%
Nasdaq 4,579.79 -13.64 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.04 -1.60%
Data as of 2:29pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 40.93 -1.16 -2.74%
Microsoft Corp 47.52 0.84 1.80%
Bank of America Corp... 16.95 -0.09 -0.53%
Oracle Corp 39.80 -1.75 -4.21%
Facebook Inc 77.91 0.91 1.18%
Data as of Sep 19

Sections

The automaker is recalling Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impalas because of a problem with the electronic parking brake arm. More

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given more money than many western nations. More

It's really good to be Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder is stepping down as CEO, so maybe he'll have more time to enjoy his glamorous life. More

As Occupy Wall Street goes on its debt-abolishing tear, thousands of people across the country are begging them to forgive their loans. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.