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 0.40%
$10K MMA 0.36%
6 month CD 0.38%
1 yr CD 0.70%
5 yr CD 1.50%

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 fixed3.95%4.07%
15 yr fixed3.13%3.13%
5/1 ARM3.11%3.22%
30 yr refi3.98%4.12%
15 yr refi3.14%3.19%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,081.81 57.64 0.32%
Nasdaq 4,786.71 21.29 0.45%
S&P 500 2,087.05 4.88 0.23%
Treasuries 2.29 0.03 1.51%
Data as of Dec 24
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 18.04 0.12 0.64%
Gilead Sciences Inc 92.34 2.89 3.23%
General Electric Co 25.71 -0.17 -0.66%
Cisco Systems Inc 28.57 0.32 1.13%
Apple Inc 112.22 -0.32 -0.28%
Data as of Dec 24

Sections

JetBlue is offering to fly police to New York for the funeral of slain NYPD officers and is working to have the family of one of the officers flown in from overseas. More

Many Americans are buying more gifts -- and more expensive gifts -- for Christmas. That's squeezing some in the middle class. More

According to data from Google Trends and GrubHub, Chinese food remains the most popular type of food order on Christmas. More

If you're looking to sell your holiday gift cards for cold hard cash... there's an app for that. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices 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.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.