Ben Stein selling ‘free’ credit reports for $29.95

That’s right. Ben Stein is now hawking FREE credit reports for $29.95. Man, the interest just kills ya every time, doesn’t it?

Stein is now the spokesman for freescore.com, and in addition to appearing in annoying ads on the web like the one here to the right, he’s doing commercials:

“I went to freescore.com and found out my score for free”, says Ben, while an annoying squirrel holds up a sign with the word “FREE” in some horrible brush-script font.

A few points are worth noting here. First, the score itself is not very useful to consumers. What’s useful is the report — if there’s an error on the report, then the consumer can try to rectify it. Secondly, and much more importantly, if you want a free credit report, there’s only one place to go: annualcreditreport.com. That’s the place where the big three credit-rating agencies will give you a genuinely free copy of your credit report once a year, as required by federal law.

You won’t be surprised to hear that freescore.com is not free: in order to get any information out of them at all, you have to authorize them to charge you a $29.95 monthly fee. They even extract a dollar out of you up front, just to make sure that money is there.

Stein, here, has become a predatory bait-and-switch merchant, dangling a “free” credit report in front of people so that he can sock them with a massive monthly fee for, essentially, doing nothing at all. Naturally, the people who take him up on this offer will be those who can least afford it.

Well defrauding the public is Stein’s specialty. This is also grounds for dismissal at the NY Times, where Stein writes as the “Everybody’s Business” columnist, not only because of the hypocrisy of working as a financial advice columnist while simultaneously deceiving the public  into paying for a service that’s available for free, but also for being a paid shill for that very product, which is the very definition of a conflict of interest.Oh, and then there’s this:

Update: Ryan Chittum notes that the new credit card act requires advertisers to inform consumers that the only place for a free credit report is AnnualCreditReport.com; they will also be required to include a   statement that “This is not the free credit report provided for by Federal law.” When does this act come into force?

Update 2: It’s also worth quoting the NYT’s own ethics guidelines:

40. It is an inherent conflict for a journalist to perform public relations work, paid or unpaid.

44. Staff members may not engage in financial counseling (except through the articles they write). They may not manage money for others, offer investment advice, or help operate an investment company of any sort, with or without pay.

Stein isn’t a staff member. But the NYT generally holds its columnists to the same ethical standards.

Further, freescore.com is allegedly a subsidiary of Vertrue Inc., which has a long history of  deceptive business practices.

Well, as a character in a movie once said, “We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking.” (Can’t believe Cameron Diaz turned out to be the only sane one in that movie).

So if you want a free credit report that REALLY is FREE, go to annualcreditreport.com and accept no substitute. It’s the only one that’s federally mandated:

9 Responses to Ben Stein selling ‘free’ credit reports for $29.95

  1. skepoet says:

    You know what has always confused me is that Experian–the reporting agency–actually owns the first business scam like the one Stein is hawking: Freecreditreport.com

  2. […] York Times fires Ben Stein A few weeks ago, I blogged about Ben Stein’s latest deceptive venture as spokesperson for the scam web site FreeScore.com, which sells “free” credit reports […]

  3. Amy says:

    I went to that website, and signed up for the ‘free report’. When I got confirmation of my membership, I logged in only to find no such report, just a website with meaningless crap. I cancelled my membership THAT DAY, and 3 days later had 2 charges of $29.95 on my back statement. It took 2 weeks and numerous emails to get credited – but what’s worse is that the sold my email address so now I am flooded with spam daily. DON’T FALL FOR THIS SCAM!

  4. m boggs says:

    how do i get free credit report, you sold, to refund 2 months fee and quit taking money from my account.
    I did not authorize an automatic withdrawal . i feel sad. plese help me get my money back, my name off the freescore report list and a copy of my free credit report.

  5. m boggs says:

    please get my money back

  6. Nice post, I have been following your blog for the last few weeks and just wanted to say great job!

  7. Cool post, I have been following your blog for the last few weeks and just wanted to say good job!

  8. […] creationists. It was later revealed that Ben Stein, also known for attaching his name to a website that sells people information they have a legal right to get for free, was talking out of his […]

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