FreeCreditReport.com has been pounding the airwaves, especially in non-prime areas, with their 30-second TV spots depicting "credit guy" and his numerous run-ins with bad credit. He and two of his musician friends tell stories of how bad credit has left them in a pinch with no way out.
There have been five spots (that I know of) entering our homes with the FreeCreditReport.com guys singing their credit woes, warning us not to fall into that bad-credit trap. These guys are our friends who warn us if we don't keep an eye on our credit, then someone may come in and snatch our identity and leave us no option for work other than wearing pirate duds at the local seafood buffet.
Thus far, the spots of which I am aware are: pirate guys/seafood; new car/subcompact; bike song; rock star; girlfriend/basement. If I missed one, let me know. The music is kinda kitschy, and I've caught myself singing out loud as I go about my daily activities, proving that advertising does burrow its way into our subconsciousness. My favorite is the new car/subcompact spot, mainly because of the lyrics. Feel free to join in at any time:
"F-R-E-E that spells free Credit report dot com, baby Saw their ads on my TV Thought about going but was too lazy Now instead of looking fly and rolling fat My legs stick to the vinyl And my posse's getting laughed at! F-R-E-E that spells free Credit report dot com, baby."
Those guys! Not only are they fun to have as friends, but they are also funny. Plus, they care for me. This is not true: These goofy bastards are actors, and the principals at the company are theBernie Madoff's of the credit rip-off world. Don't fall for the ad's small-town, farm-boy charm. They want your money.
Just what is their intent? Our wallets. The "free credit report" isn't close to free, friendly singing dudes or not. The cost is $15 every month or $180 per year. Is this false advertising? Maybe, except that there is the fine print that reads it isn't free. FreeCreditReport.com isn't going to tell you that when you sign up, but it will magically show up your credit card statement.
The spots use fear (bad credit will put us in the basement with a lying wife, no car, and working at a seafood restaurant in pirate duds) to lure customers into signing up to monitor their credit. I don't sing or dance and don't have the look of a cute Midwesterner, but I'll give you better advice than the Free Credit Report boys: Do not sign up. There is a free credit report that you can get. Go to Annual Credit Report and fill out the forms. The reports from all three major reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) will be either sent to your e-mail or be available as a download.
Exercise caution, and read the fine print when signing anything that has to do with your credit. Although positioned as "your credit report," it's actually the creditor's file report about you.