The Federal Trade Commission has extended the deadline for public comments from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7 on the agency’s new proposal to crack down on deceptive marketing of “free credit reports” on all media.
The deadline was extended after a request by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, “on behalf of interested states,” the FTC said. Illinois officials requested the extension because it needed additional time to “compile data and file comprehensive comments.” The Illinois AG has displayed a prominent role in going after credit card and “free credit report” deceptive marketing practices.
The FTC’s new rule seeks to prevent consumer confusion in advertisements for “free credit reports.” In amendments to existing rules, the agency is also addressing certain marketing practices that “may interfere with a consumers’ ability” to obtain their free credit report from the three credit bureaus, as is required under federal law.
The Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires the FTC to issue a rule by February 22 to prevent the deceptive marketing of “free credit reports.” Specifically, the federal legislation requires that certain advertisements include prominent disclosures to prevent consumers from confusing these “free” offers with the federally-mandated free annual credit reports available through the “centralized source,” which is AnnualCreditReport.com.
The FTC is expected to propose disclosures for television, radio, print, Internet, and other media. For example, for any Internet site offering free credit reports, a separate website “landing page” would have to say: “This is not the free credit report provided for by Federal law. To get your free report, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228.”
The agency, through a special webpage it has set up – http://www.ftc.gov/freereports – states it “has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services.
“Don’t be fooled by TV ads, email offers, or online search results,” the FTC states. “Go to the authorized source when you request your free report. ”
In an unusual move, the FTC has produced its own spoof videos featuring a trio remarkably similar to the “free credit report” slacker musicians in the commercials. In the FTC video, the young musicians sing a warning: “Other sites may turn your head; they say they’re free, don’t be misled. Once you’re in their tangled web, they’ll sell you something else instead.”
See related article:
It’s AnnualCreditReport.com, NOT the One With Catchy Jingle on T.V.